Five takeaways: Blake Clippers crush Stephen Curry-less Warriors

The Los Angeles Clippers crushed the Golden State Warriors 130-95 in their penultimate preseason game on Tuesday night.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

Griffin Force

Blake Griffin has a vendetta against the Warriors and decided to obliterate them tonight. No matter who they threw at him — Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli, James Michael McAdoo — Griffin embarrassed them with face-up drives from the post, hook shots, step-backs and mid-range jumpers. By night’s end, he finished with 29 points (11 of 18 shooting), 23 of which he scored in the first half. A lukewarm prediction: Keep an eye on Griffin in the MVP race this season. If Paul rests more now that the team has greater depth, Griffin could emerge as a legitimate candidate.

Lance locks in

Lance Stephenson’s role with the Clippers is to create for his teammates, take and make open shots, and defend multiple positions. That last part is the most interesting, as Stephenson tends to drift in and out of focus defensively. When he’s locked in, though, he can make a difference, as he did in the first quarter when he held Klay Thompson to 1-of-3 shooting and two turnovers. Stephenson stayed with Thompson off the ball, sneaking around screens like a snake, and made it tough for Thompson to not only get a shot off, but get open in the first place. "I thought [Lance Stephenson] was really good," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Defensively, he was good."

The rivalry continues

To say these two teams don’t like each other would be the understatement of the season. Just look at the barbs they exchanged leading up to this matchup. The tension boiled over into the game, and there was some inevitable chippiness, culminating in 66 fouls and eight technicals. Griffin and Shaun Livingston. Stephenson and Green. Chris Paul and the refs. Paul was ejected at the 7:59 mark of the third quarter after back-to-back technical fouls, which was a rare sight. But anything is possible when the Clippers and Warriors meet up.

Second unit shines

On paper, this is the best and deepest Clippers roster ever. But they haven’t looked like it in the preseason. The bench has struggled to acclimate to Rivers’ offensive and defensive systems, both of which can take some time to learn. Tonight, however, things seemed to click, and the Clippers’ beefed-up second unit flashed its potential. Josh Smith knocked down jumpers and protected the rim. Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford leveraged their mid-range shooting to get to the rim. Paul Pierce did a little bit of everything. Regardless of whether Stephenson starts or not — he’ll probably come off the bench, which Rivers said he preferred in training camp — the Clippers’ newfound depth should make a considerable difference this season.

Pump the brakes

Before we overreact and anoint the Clippers the new champs — the Warriors crushed the Clippers in their preseason matchup last year, so you never know — remember that Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut didn’t play. That isn’t to say they’d collectively make a 35-point difference — the Clippers simply crushed the Warriors tonight — but the final score would’ve been much closer. And at the end of the day, this is just preseason basketball. It doesn’t mean much. "I don’t overthink preseason," Rivers said. "I really don’t." Still, it’s nice to see a commanding win like this against a rival.

The Clippers will conclude their preseason against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on Thursday.

Catch Prime Ticket’s coverage starting at 7 p.m.