The whole state of California held there collective breath until the final horn of the Los Angeles Clippers 98-96 victory over the Golden State Warriors. It was action-packed, physical, testy, and just plain fun.
When the smoke cleared Chris Paul was left standing, pounding his chest as Stephen Curry could be seen on the ground behind him asking for a foul call which did not come. The last three minutes of game 3 were the most exciting three minutes we’ve seen in this series thus far.
Both star point guards struggled offensively for a majority of the game, but in crunch time they made
huge plays. Curry hit a trio of three pointers to carry the Warriors back to within two of their cross-state rival, including a pair from about 30 feet. Curry also did an excellent job of attacking the rim early, forcing the Clippers bigs to step up and help — most of the time they didn’t need to because Paul was doing a good job — and hitting his bigs getting them easy layups. Most of 9 of Curry’s 15 dimes came in the first half while a majority of his 16 points came in the second half.
Chris Paul finished with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting and played most of the game in apparent pain as he grabbed his right hamstring several times. Regardless of his injury and the tough night offensively, Paul dominated defensively. He and DeAndre Jordan were in sync with their defending of the pick-and-roll. Paul also funneled guards to Jordan who had another monster night protecting the rim. Although CP3 only tallied two steals, he caused close to half of the Warriors 17 turnovers.
Without a doubt, Paul’s most important contribution came in the final seconds. After missing a free-throw, allowing the Dubs’ to remain within two, Paul forced Curry to throw up a step-back three which he airballed. Many wanted a foul call, and although Paul stuck his arm up against Curry’s hip, he didn’t move it, therefore it’s not possible that Curry could have fallen over from this contact. Also, after the no call when Chris Bosh flattened Danny Green last year on his three attempt at the end of game 6 of the NBA Finals, it is clear referees won’t call the foul. With the minimal contact between Curry and Paul, it’s ridiculous to expect the referees to call that.
When you take a look at how these guys played last night for a majority of the game, it’s pretty incredible considering how they shook off their shaky starts to make huge plays down the stretch. Hopefully we will get to see more of these two all start point guards in that form in the remainder of the series.