It’s been said that nothing good comes easy. While there have been issues unrelated to the hardwood that have made this a tough series for the Clippers, at times it seems their greatest advantage quickly becomes a greater disadvantage. Nothing would serve more true than Thursday night’s game-six matchup against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland’s Oracle Arena.
No more protests or opinions about anything unrelated to the game of basketball, the Clippers had a shot to close out a hard-fought series and get some rest before the semi-finals. Despite reasonable effort they would fall one point short, losing 99-100.
Limited to only 10 shot attempts in game five, Stephen Curry got out to a hot start for the Warriors, quickly putting up 14 points in short order. He would end the night with a game-high 24 points on 32 shooting attempts. Matt Barnes led the way for the Clippers in the first quarter with eight points eventually leading to the Clippers largest lead of the night of nine points, but sloppy play and poor passing out of the double team from Blake Griffin led to six team turnovers.
“It was one of those hustle games. Give them credit. I thought they came up with just enough plays to beat us,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. Hustle would in fact turn the tide in the Warriors favor scoring only 10 points off turnovers on the night, however six came in the first half where Green came up with three steals, all of which were converted by Golden State.
On a night where the Warriors would lose forward Jermaine O’Neal to a right knee hyperextension, David Lee to six fouls resulting in disqualification early in the fourth and still no sign of Andrew Bogut, the Warriors still grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and sunk 42 points in the paint. The Clippers would look to DeAndre Jordan to have another stellar game similar to his performance in the previous contest, however he would collect 19 rebounds and 9 points with a typical night from the free throw line – hitting only three of nine attempts.
Chris Paul finished with an uncharacteristic nine points and eight assists in his worst performance of this year’s playoffs. He would sit for the majority of the third quarter after acquiring his fourth foul, and seemed to have trouble with his hand which was previously injured two seasons ago. Doc Rivers commented on Chris Paul’s status with, “He’s dealing with a lot of stuff, but listen, he’s on the floor and Golden State doesn’t care, bottom line. He does have injuries, and there’s no doubt about that.”
Golden State didn’t care. After losing David Lee to his sixth foul with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, coach Mark Jackson looked to his bench and found Marreese Speights who filled in for Lee quite well – finishing the game with 12 points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter alone. The Warriors shot only 35.3 percent through the first three quarters, but rallied in the fourth quarter, going 11-for-21 from the floor to keep the lead for the final 11 minutes.
Although it was one of the more balanced scoring efforts, none of the Clippers players tallied over 20 points. Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford finished with a team high 19 points and tried to keep the Clippers in the game, hitting two of four three pointers. Blake Griffin didn’t match his usual level of effectiveness as this series’ leading scorer averaging 24 points per game. He missed 15 of his first 20 shots under heavy pressure from Green, and finished the game with 17 points and 9 rebounds.
“We understand the journey,” Crawford said. “It won’t be easy, but we feel like we’re in a good position. We’re at home and we’ll be ready.” Game seven will be held at Staples Center on Saturday.