If the Clippers see the Golden State Warriors again this season, it will be in the NBA playoffs.
Sounds pretty intriguing, huh?
The Clippers undoubtedly would love another crack at the Warriors, especially after losing to them Monday afternoon 106-99 and dropping three of four games to their Pacific Division rival this season.
Their head-to-head series this season is over. And perhaps the Clippers should be thankful for that.
So far, haven’t been able to solve the mystery that is Stephen Curry, the Golden State guard who scored a game-high 28 points and made six of eight three-point shots, including four in the final period.
The Clippers gave Curry and his backcourt teammate, Klay Thompson, too many open looks from long distance and paid for it. The two were 9 of 16 from three-point range and combined for 46 points. Curry had 16 in the fourth.
Even so, the Clippers kept it close down the stretch. The game was tied 11 times, and there were 15 lead changes. The Clippers’ last lead was 95-92 with three minutes, 40 seconds left in the game before the Warriors scored nine consecutive points.
“We were getting some good defensive stops there in the third, but then we couldn’t control them in the fourth quarter,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We fought. We made some plays. We had opportunities down the stretch, but we couldn’t convert down the stretch (and) they did. In this game, it’s about making plays and they did today.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin nearly had a triple-double (26 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists), but point guard Chris Paul was clearly affected by a previous injury to his right knee. Monday’s game was his second since returning to the lineup, but he appeared to favor his knee at times and scored just four points on 1-of-7 shooting.
The Clippers had to come back continually. They fell behind 50-39 in the second period but scored 13 of the next 16 points to trail at the half, 53-52. They let the Warriors take a 69-62 lead in the third but rallied again with an 18-4 run to take an 80-73 lead going into the final period.
“It was tough,” said Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, who scored 24 points and made 6 of 11 3-pointers. “We used a lot of energy to get back, obviously, and sometimes a team like that gets a lot of confidence.
“They like to get up and down. That’s their pace. They put a lot of guards out there, and that’s when they’re at their best, playing free flowing and shooting threes. That’s what they did.”
Curry’s three-pointer with 1:26 remaining gave Golden State a 99-95 lead, and David Lee’s put-back shot 23 seconds later made it a six-point game. The Warriors then made the last five points of the game at the foul line.
The Warriors get no rest. They return to Staples Center to play Western Conference leader Oklahoma City on Tuesday night. The Thunder have the league’s best record at 32-9; the Clippers are 32-10.
After that, the Clippers play 10 of their next 11 on the road.
They’ll have to forget about Monday’s loss quickly. But if there’s a rematch in the postseason, they’ll have long memories.