LOS ANGELES — Saturday night was about making statements. The Clippers made one loud enough to resonate across the NBA’s Pacific Division.
They routed the Golden State Warriors by 26 points at Staples Center just three nights after losing emphatically to the same Warriors team in Oakland. As Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said afterward, “Everyone wanted to get the bad taste out of their mouth.”
They did. Their 115-89 win marked the Clippers’ 12th consecutive win at home, setting a franchise record and giving them a 2-2 record in what was considered their toughest stretch of games so far — four games in five nights, including two back-to-backs.
Saturday’s dismantling of the Warriors, the surprise team in the Western Conference this season, followed Friday night’s win over the Lakers. But the thing that rattled the Clippers was a 21-point loss to the Warriors just three nights ago.
“We knew that Wednesday was fresh in their minds,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We knew they were going to come out and go after us, and we did not respond. We don’t accept it, but we will own it. They were the better team tonight clearly.”
The Clippers had also lost to Golden State in the first week of the season, and the Clippers looked at this game as their opportunity for payback. They held the Warriors to 12 points in the first quarter, led by 24 at the half and went in front by as many as 39 points before slouching their way through the final period.
More than anything, LA wanted to put those two head-to-head losses behind them.
“Just the fact they beat us twice, that’s the biggest thing,” forward Matt Barnes said. “They’re only a few games behind us (in the Pacific). We just wanted to come out and make a statement. They blew us out when they were at home and got us earlier here, so the most important thing is we wanted to get a win.”
The game became so lopsided that the Clippers seemed to be putting on a clinic on the finer points of alley-oops and dunks. After one spectacular display in which Chris Paul lobbed a pass off the glass to DeAndre Jordan for a resounding dunk in the third quarter, the Warriors called a timeout. Warriors forward David Lee stood on the court and nodded as the Clippers assembled on their bench for high fives and back slaps.
Paul was unstoppable, scoring 27 points and making 10-of-12 shots, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Griffin had 20 points as all five starters scored in double figures.
The Clippers again played without their best bench player, Jamal Crawford, who sat out his second successive game with a sore left foot. But they didn’t need the offense he usually provides.
After going 17-0 in December, they are 2-2 in the new year. But at 27-8, they’re tied with the San Antonio Spurs for most wins in the league and now can look forward to a week in which they play just twice in seven days.
“I thought we did a good job finishing the week off,” Griffin said. “We played pretty poorly in those two road games in Denver and Golden State. To bounce back and get a win against the Lakers — a big game and an emotional game, especially with how it finished — and get this win in a big way is great for us.”