Playing the final regular-season home game in Oracle Arena’s 47 seasons, the Golden State Warriors treated Sunday like a trip down memory lane. If a break in play didn’t include a highlight package from past seasons, it featured the introduction of a past great to the roars of a delighted crowd.
For the Clippers, the game — a 131-104 defeat — was a reminder of how much this building has been a house of horrors.
The Clippers have lost 11 of their last 12 games here, and if those past results seem scary their immediate future might not be so rosy, either. If the Clippers are the No. 8 seed, they would have to return here next weekend to begin a first-round playoff series against the Warriors, who clinched the Western Conference’s top seed with the victory.
A slim possibility remains that the Clippers could finish with the conference’s sixth-best record, but the Clippers’ three-game losing streak means they can no longer control their own destiny. To avoid the eighth seed, and a first-round matchup against the two-time reigning champion Warriors, the Clippers need to win their regular-season finale Wednesday against Utah and have San Antonio lose its finale against Dallas. Even that alone, however, won’t keep them entirely clear of the eighth seed, depending how Oklahoma City finishes in its last two games.
Wherever the Clippers (47-34) land, “we’ll be ready when the time comes,” coach Doc Rivers said, his confidence stemming from the resiliency of his group all season, and how they stuck with the nearly full-strength Warriors (56-24) for the first half despite playing without three core rotation players.
“I thought we played right, we played hard today we just couldn’t sustain our play,” he said.
Starting guard Patrick Beverley (hip) missed his third straight game, though he said he will play Wednesday. Starting forward Danilo Gallinari rested a sore ankle and reserve forward JaMychal Green was not with the team for a second straight game so he could be with family in Memphis, Tenn., after the birth of a son.
As such, the Clippers started an unusual lineup featuring reserves Wilson Chandler, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Yet the Clippers led by as many as four points in the first half.
“That first half felt more like us,” said Shamet, who scored 17 points. “As of late we haven’t been us for a couple games now. The first half felt like we had that chip back a little bit.”
Then the inevitable onslaught arrived. Golden State outscored the Clippers by 20 points after halftime and took 13 more shots. The Clippers’ 20 turnovers became 29 points by Golden State.
“Glad we got the win in the fashion that we did and just a night of celebration of blending the history and the present,” said Stephen Curry, who scored 27 points. “Looking forward to next weekend.”
Earlier Sunday the Clippers waived forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who had missed the last five months with an injured knee.
The decision allows the team to sign another player before the end of the regular season Wednesday.
Should they go that route, Carmelo Anthony is not under consideration to fill the roster spot, according to a person with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly.