Resoundingly and emphatically, the Clippers responded to the challenge presented to them in Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series by winning in historic fashion Monday night at Staples Center.
Blake Griffin answered the call with a playoff career-high 35 points. And Doc Rivers coached his team with a purpose while mixing it up with one of his former players.
Griffin’s 35-point night, in just three quarters of play, was the impetus behind the Clippers’ 138-98 rout of the Golden State Warriors.
The 40-point margin of victory was a franchise playoff record, easily surpassing a 25-point win against the Phoenix Suns in Game 2 of the 2006 conference semifinals. It also was the most points scored in a playoff game in franchise history, topping the 124 the Buffalo Braves scored twice in 1976.
“I thought we really kept the game simple tonight,” Rivers said. “When a guy had an open shot, he shot it. When he didn’t, he passed it.”
With Chris Paul producing 12 points and 10 assists and DeAndre Jordan contributing 11 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots, the Clippers evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
The series now shifts to Oakland for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Sunday at Oracle Arena, home to some of the NBA’s most raucous fans.
The Clippers will try to snap a five-game losing streak in Oakland, where they haven’t won since Dec. 25, 2011. The Clippers also have lost 15 of their last 17 there.
Griffin logged more court time in the first half Monday night (19 minutes 33 seconds) than he did in the entire first game Saturday (19:14), when he fouled out. He sat out the fourth quarter Monday after dominating the Warriors, making 13 of 17 shots and nine of 10 free throws. He also had six rebounds.
Rivers was just as hyped for this game as his players. Late in the second quarter, he and Golden State’s Jermaine O’Neal exchanged words, earning each a technical foul.
Rivers coached O’Neal for two seasons (2010-12) in Boston.
“I don’t like getting into stuff like that, and I don’t think J.O. does either,” Rivers said. “It was just one of those things.”
The Clippers’ second unit of Jamal Crawford, Darren Collison, Glen Davis, Danny Granger and Hedo Turkoglu took control of the game during the second quarter.
After the Clippers took an 11-point first-quarter lead, the reserves increased it to 20 points before the starters began to ease their way back into the game in the second.
And the starters kept their feet on the Warriors’ throats, building a 67-41 lead at the half.
Crawford, who was two for 11 for nine points in Game 1, was four for eight in the second game, again scoring nine points.
Granger, who was one for six for three points in Game 1, was six for 10 and scored 15 points in Game 2 before fouling out.
Turkoglu had 15 points.
It was a tough night all around for Warriors All-Star guard Stephen Curry, who finished with 24 points on nine-for-17 shooting, one for seven from three-point range.
After Curry scored on consecutive possessions in the third quarter, getting knocked to the court by Griffin both times with no foul being called, the Warriors guard took out his mouth guard and threw it toward the scorer’s table with 2:01 left.
Curry was assessed a technical foul for losing his composure and showing up the officials.
It did no good for the Warriors.
The Clippers shot 56.6% from the field, 48% (12 for 25) from three-point range.
They also made 91% (32 of 35) of their free throws.