Five takeaways from the Clippers’ 124-117 loss to Golden State

Draymond Green, Blake Griffin

Clippers forward Blake Griffin has the ball stripped away by Warriors forward Draymond Green during a Nov. 19 game at Staples Center.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Golden State’s assault on the rest of the NBA continued Thursday night at Staples Center with a wild 124-117 victory over the Clippers that extended the Warriors’ season-opening stretch of victories to 13 in a row. Here are five takeaways from the game:

1. A hat tip to the Warriors was in order: Golden State’s offensive execution and shot-making in the final minutes was like something out of “Pleasantville,” with the ball continually going through the basket as it wiped out a 10-point deficit in the final five minutes. The Warriors made eight of nine three-pointers in the fourth quarter, while outscoring the Clippers, 39-26. Arch rivals or not, the Clippers’ Blake Griffin knows a superior team when he sees it. “They’re the better team,” Griffin said. “They have been the last two games, the last year. We’re trying to get to where they’re at.”

2. Finishing continues to be a problem for the Clippers: They have blown double-digit leads in four of their five losses, including both defeats against the Warriors. They were ahead by 10 points with less than five minutes to play Thursday, something that should better be known as uh-oh time. The Clippers made only two of their last 10 shots, and Griffin committed two turnovers during that span. “I thought we had just some slips and errors there,” Griffin said. “The fourth quarter, we have to do a better job.”

3. Golden State brings out the best … and the worst in the Clippers: It’s fair to say that the Clippers’ best two efforts this season have come against the Warriors. They rallied from a 17-point deficit in Oakland earlier this month and came out with an inspired performance for most of their match-up Thursday. But then there was the matter of closing things out against an unbeaten team featuring the NBA’s top offense, something that rattled the Clippers in the moments that mattered most. “I think they made a statement of being more together,” Griffin said. “All we can do is watch the film, correct some mistakes and go on the road and win a game [Friday] night.”


4. Chris Paul was back, and J.J. Redick should be soon: Paul had 35 points and eight assists in his return from a two-game absence caused by a strained right groin, but seemed to tire like the rest of his teammates in the final minutes, missing two of his last three shots. By contrast, his start couldn’t have been any better, making his first seven shots and having outscored the Warriors, 18-16, when he checked out of the game late in the first quarter. “When he’s aggressive, ready to shoot, he puts a lot of pressure on other teams and he did that tonight,” Griffin said of Paul. “It was good to see him that aggressive in his first game back.” Redick sat out his third consecutive game because of back spasms but looked close to returning based on his ease of movement during the morning shoot-around. He could conceivably play against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday if he continues to improve.

5. Lance Stephenson appears to be the odd man out of Doc Rivers’ rotation, at least for the moment: Stephenson got his first DNP-coach’s decision since collecting two late in his one disastrous season with the Charlotte Hornets, remaining on the bench even after Paul Pierce picked up four fouls in the first half. Stephenson remained a good teammate, though, standing and holding his arm aloft to cheer a Josh Smith three-pointer in the second half. Stephenson’s sitting-out came after he had played less than two minutes in the Clippers’ previous game against Detroit. Didn’t the Clippers trade for Stephenson to help their depth? “Well, he will,” Rivers said, “just not right now. I think when [Stephen] Curry got in foul trouble, it changed their rotation where they went big. We assumed they would go small, which they usually do in the first half, so that took Lance’s rotation out in the first half. It’s nothing right now that he’s not doing, but he’ll be back.” Rivers said he would probably deepen his rotation against the Trail Blazers on the second night of a back-to-back, meaning Stephenson would likely receive some playing time.



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