OAKLAND -- At some point, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers told his players repeatedly this season, they were going to have to win a playoff game on the road.
That time came Thursday night for the Clippers in Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.
The Clippers made that stand behind another monster game from Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan’s strong all-round effort and a tremendous three-point defensive performance that pushed them to a thrilling 98-96 victory over the Warriors.
The Clippers blew nearly all of their 18-point lead and even saw Chris Paul miss one of two free throws with 8.6 seconds left for a 98-96 lead.
But then Paul smothered Stephen Curry on his potential game-winning three-pointer as time expired.
Paul, who was said to have had a 100-degree temperature the last few days to go along with an injured right hamstring, finished with 15 points and 10 assists.
He had six points in the final three minutes of the game and played his best defense of the night on Curry, who scored only 16 points on five-for-12 shooting.
Griffin’s 32 points, 10 in the third when the Clippers opened an 18-point lead, helped the Clippers take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Griffin even withstood a flagrant foul when Draymond Green smacked him in the face in the third quarter. Griffin just smiled and jogged down court. But he missed both free throws.
Jordan tied a franchise playoff record with 22 rebounds, previously held by Bob McAdoo with the Buffalo Braves. Jordan also had 14 points and five blocked shots to help the Clippers take back the home-court advantage.
Jordan had 13 rebounds in the first half alone, which tied the franchise record for most rebounds in a half in a playoff game.
Game 4 is Sunday afternoon here, giving the Clippers an opportunity to win another road playoff game and take a commanding lead in the series.
The Clippers have completely shut down the Warriors’ three-point offense, but that’s not a total surprise.
After all, the Clippers held opponents to 33.2% shooting from three-point range during the regular season, tops in the NBA. The Warriors shot 38% from three-point range during the regular season, tied for the fourth highest.
The Clippers had held the Warriors to just 32.6% (15 for 46) from three-point range in the first two games.
In the third game, the Clippers were solid again with their three-point defense, holding the Warriors to 19.4% (six for 31).
The Warriors missed their first 10 three-pointers, finally making one when Klay Thompson drilled a three from the corner with 1:04 left in the first half. They finished the first half just one for 12 from three-point range.
All the talk beforehand was about how the loud, raucous crowd would have an effect on the Clippers.
But the visitors withstood all that noise, building a nine-point lead in the first half before settling into a 46-43 halftime lead.
Curry and Thompson finally heated up to bring the Warriors within 87-86 with 4:24 to play.