Clippers shift momentum with big Game 2 win
LOS ANGELES — The Clippers didn’t just erase the horrific memory of Game 1, they smothered it.
Monday night, they attacked. They were so relentless on defense and offense that by the midway point of the third quarter, the score no longer mattered. They simply kept pushing, from starters to reserves, from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
"We told them before the game, play to the finish line, no matter what the score was," coach Doc Rivers said.
The Clippers did, crushing the Golden State Warriors 138-98 at Staples Center and tying their best-of-seven Western Conference series at a game apiece.
This series is a long way from over. The teams will play the next two games at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Thursday and Sunday, and unless the Clippers can win one, they’ll return home next week on the brink of elimination.
But if a game can turn momentum, this one did.
"We just had to fight back," forward Matt Barnes said. "They came in here and did what they had to do. They came here to get one and they did that. We knew we had to fight back."
— Los Angeles Clippers (@LAClippers) April 22, 2014
What the Clippers did was reminiscent of their 48-point victory over the Lakers in March. They shot 57 percent, forced 26 turnovers and set franchise playoff records for total points and margin of victory.
Blake Griffin, held to 16 points in 19 minutes before fouling out of Saturday’s opener, scored his postseason career high with 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting — and he committed no fouls.
If there was any concern about how he might react in a tightly officiated game, he didn’t show it.
"That was great mental toughness by Blake," Rivers said. "We talk about it all the time: ‘You have no opponent. When we throw you the ball, you score. I don’t care who’s guarding you, just go play. I don’t care what they do to you, just go play.’ I thought that was his mindset."
The Clippers scored at least 31 points in each quarter and reached the 100-point mark with 1 ½ minutes left in the third period. Their lead was never less than 24 points in the third quarter, never less than 32 in the fourth.
"We played bad," Golden State coach Mark Jackson said. "We were awful. We own it.
"But we will not overreact. We’re not going to lose sight that we have home-court advantage."
Putting this game behind them won’t be easy. They were never in it, falling behind 15-4 and getting forced into turnovers by a trapping Clippers defense. And with Griffin playing freely, they were dominant offensively.
After the game, Griffin was asked about the trust his teammates have in him and how it boosts his confidence.
We told them before the game, play to the finish line, no matter what the score was
-- Clippers coach Doc Rivers
"It means a lot," he said. "Whether you believe it or not, every NBA player deals with confidence issues at times. Before every game, to hear C.P. (Chris Paul), Jamal (Crawford), D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) and then our coaching staff say, ‘Go attack, go score, go do what you do,’ that’s a confidence-builder that gets me into the game."
The Clippers starters, with the exception of Barnes, sat for the entire fourth quarter, but there was no dropoff. The second unit scored 58 points and had 10 rebounds. Danny Granger had 15 points in 18 minutes, Hedo Turkoglu scored 13 on 5-of-7 shooting, and Darren Collison added 12 points.
Doc says he's not surprised at the way his team bounced back tonight. "As Dennis Green says, they are who we thought they were!" #Clippers
— Madelyn Burke (@MadelynBurke) April 22, 2014
"We wanted to make a concerted effort to change the game, and we did that," Granger said. "We came in, we played up-tempo, got some stops on the defensive end and pushed the lead from 10 to 21.
"I don’t think they got any closer than that, so that’s one of the advantage of being a deep team."