LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Golden State Warriors had to deal with adversity on and off the court to pull out a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers and put a happy ending on a difficult day.
Stephen Curry and reserve Carl Landry had 23 points apiece, and the Warriors held off the Los Angeles Clippers for a 114-110 victory on Saturday night.
“We don’t quit,” coach Mark Jackson said. “We had every reason to quit, but we gutted it out and we defended. It was just a great win for us. I am extremely proud of my guys.”
Klay Thompson had 17 points and eight rebounds for Golden State, helping hand the Clippers their first loss of the season.
The win came after the Warriors learned reserve small forward Brandon Rush, their best perimeter defender, will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the first quarter of Friday night’s 104-94 loss to Memphis.
“It was tough. Obviously we were a little shook yesterday when it happened, seeing one of your teammates and brothers go down like that — and then hearing the bad news today that came from the MRI,” Curry said. “We were thinking about him all day today. Not seeing him in the locker room tonight was a little different. But you’ve got to play, and we were thankful that we came out with a win.”
Rookie Festus Ezeli started at center for Golden State and had eight points and five rebounds in place of Andrew Bogut, who played in the first two games after returning from surgery on his left ankle. Jackson’s plan early in the season is to rest Bogut in the second of back-to-back games.
Chris Paul scored 27 points for Los Angeles, going 19 for 20 at the free-throw line. Reserve Jamal Crawford also had 27 points, and Blake Griffin finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. The Clippers, coming off victories against Memphis and the Lakers, were trying to go 3-0 for only the fifth time in the franchise’s 43-year history.
“I think we did a good job of scrambling, but we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that position in the first place,” Griffin said.
Los Angeles missed its first five shots and fell behind by nine points. The Warriors extended their lead to as many as 14 with about 4 minutes left in the first quarter, and the Clippers cut the deficit to 57-53 by halftime. But they never got the lead despite three 3-pointers in a 1:33 span of the third quarter by Caron Butler that kept them within striking distance.
The third one came with 2:27 left in the third, narrowing the gap to 79-77. But the Warriors responded with six straight points, then began the fourth quarter with a 12-4 run to open a 97-83 lead with 7:46 remaining.
The Clippers fought back with a 16-4 run, capped by a three-point play by Crawford and a pair of free throws by Paul that sliced Golden State’s lead to 101-99 with 3:55 left. The Clippers tied it two more times before the Warriors went back in front on a jumper by Curry with 1:25 to go.
“We just stayed composed,” Curry said. “It was a chippy game, with a lot of fouls going their way, and they shot a lot of free throws. But we knew that if we kept our composure, we had an opportunity to win it with stops down the stretch and executing on the offensive end.”
Griffin missed a layup in heavy traffic at the other end, but the Clippers got the ball back on a shot-clock violation. Paul had made 19 consecutive free throws from the start of the game before missing his next one, keeping the Clippers behind 109-108 with 42.9 seconds left.
Jarrett Jack made two from the line for the Warriors and Paul made it a one-point game again on a layup. Curry made one of two for a 112-110 Warriors lead, and the Clippers took a timeout with 21.4 seconds left. But a driving layup by Paul was negated by his offensive foul against Curry, whose two free throws sealed it with 6.9 seconds left.
“It’s obviously very frustrating, but you’ve got to give them props. They did a good job,” Griffin said. “They came down and made shots, they executed, they got stops and hit free throws. We turned it on a little too late, and that’s something we’ve got to learn from. Adversity is going to come, and it’s important to see how we respond to it.”
NOTES: Griffin, who came in with a free-throw percentage of .593 in 150 games, was 11 for 16 from the line — the 10th time he has made 10 or more. … The Clippers are the only franchise the Warriors have a winning road record against (50-45). … Crawford was the first Clipper to score 20 or more points off the bench in three consecutive games since Mo Williams did it last January.