Down 21 at the half, the Clippers needed an immediate spark to light a fire for them against the back-to-back NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
And so they turned to JaMychal Green to start at center in the third quarter in place of the ineffective Ivica Zubac.
But the lift Green had provided for the Clippers in the first half with his 13 points on five-for-eight shooting didn’t carry enough weight in the second half, as the Warriors simply overwhelmed Green and his teammates during a 132-105 victory.
“We’re going to have to lean on everybody,” Green said earlier in the day at the Clippers’ shoot-around. “It’s going to be a whole team effort. It’s not going to be two players that beat Golden State. It’s going to be the whole team so everybody just got to do their job.”
Green, a 6-9 power forward, finished with 15 points on six-for-10 shooting and five rebounds in 22 minutes.
His three-for-four shooting from three-point range opened up more space for the Clippers to operate in the first 24 minutes of Game 3 of the Western Conference best-of-seven first-round series at Staples Center on Thursday night.
Clippers’ Lou Williams is tightly guarded by Warriors’ Andre Iguadala during the first quarter.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers coach Doc Rivers avoids eye contact after Kevin Durant hits a long three pointer in front of the team’s bench.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari is stripped of the ball, but fouled, by Warriors defenders Shaun Livinston (left) and Alfonso McKinnie.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Warriors’ Andre Iguadala drives for a dunk during the third quarter.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Warriors’ Kevin Durant slips past Clippers guard Patrick Beverley for a basket.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Warriors teammates Kevin Durant (left) and Klay Thompson celebrate a Thompson dunk during the second quarter.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Warriors forward Kevin Durant falls to the floor as he makes a shot in the first quarter.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers center Ivica Zubac struggles to shoot over Warriors center Andrew Bogut during the first quarter.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
“We all dogs,” Green said. “We all fight. Ain’t no quit in us. No matter what the score is we’re going to compete.”
After Green had been called for a foul setting a screen on Kevin Durant early in the third quarter, the two talked to each other walking back down the court.
That led to both Green and Durant being called for double-technical fouls with eight minutes and 39 seconds left in the third — calls that would be rescinded by the NBA on Friday.
On Golden State’s next possession, Durant connected on a wing jumper over Green’s defense.
Green spent most of the third quarter defending Durant, who still finished with 38 points on 14-for-23 shooting no matter who was guarding him.
When Green’s follow dunk cut the Clippers’ 33-point deficit to 100-72, Golden State coach Steve Kerr didn’t take any chances, calling a timeout with 3:42 left in the third.
The Clippers got down as big as 35 points in the third quarter to the Warriors.
Zubac has struggled all series long, and Game 3 was no different for the third-year center for the most part.
He had entered the game having scored two points and grabbed six rebounds total in the first two games.
Zubac came alive in the fourth quarter, but the game was out of reach for the Clippers by then.
He wound up with a double-double of 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Game 4 is Sunday at Staples Center and changes to the starting lineup are in play with the way Zubac has struggled and the way Green has played.
“That’s something that we will consider,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.