Coming Up Short in Oracle: Clippers fall to Warriors, 108-112


You could argue Clippers-Warriors wasn’t supposed to be close.

With Stephen Curry dealing with foul trouble early in the first quarter the Clippers were, in theory, in position to assert themselves against the defending world champions. But drawing from last seasons misery, the team’s bench failed to maintain what the starters created, allowing a once 23-23 score to balloon to a 17-point lead in the Warriors favor.

A recent history tells us once the Warriors get up by 15 points, they walk away as winners. And while that remains true, the Clippers made the game worth watching into the fourth quarter, a territory in Warriors game synonymous with garbage time for the champs, with Los Angeles claiming a 10-point lead in the fourth before letting the Warriors come back and win it 112-108.

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  • It’s winning the battle while losing the “war”. Against the top team in the league, where the gold gleamed and nearly won the Clippers the game — gold being Chris Paul‘s 24-9, Blake Griffin‘s 23-10-6, DeAndre Jordan‘s double-double of 11-13, and Austin Rivers‘s perimeter defense — it was difficult to bypass bad to highlight the former. If the Clippers’ bench players at least 25% better than what they mustered up tonight we’d be talking about how they stood as one of the three undefeated’s in the league following an impressive early season win in Oracle. The group is still figuring out how to play but Doc Rivers isn’t doing them any favors by failing to stagger his stars (Paul, Griffin, Jordan) to maintain some resemblance of balance throughout the game. But it’s last years issue rearing its head, especially the constant showing of Jamal Crawford being less and less of an NBA player by the day,  except only the names are more familiar and are more synonymous with being able to do stuff but failing to actually do so — call it the “on paper” syndrome.

    And where the Clippers just needed one guy to join it’s Big 3 and put them over the top, the Warriors were able to get it in the fourth quarter from Harrison Barnes, who finished with 17 points (10 coming in the fourth quarter), 9 rebounds, and 3 assists.

    So what’s there to take from a game 5-of-82 matchup against the Warriors? Even with Curry continuing on with a routine 31 points and Golden State being without it’s defensive anchor in Andrew Bogut, the Clippers are talented enough to be in the ballpark of the Warriors, a place many teams can’t claim to be.

    As mentioned in the quick post highlighting Bogut being out for last night’s affair, I addressed two things the Clippers would need to do to win the game, which were slowing down Curry or finding a way to out-offense the league’s best defense. The Curry thing? It happened. He happens, and with the shots taken you hope he comes up cold — foul trouble was the best defense on Curry all night (and all season).

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    The latter, the Clippers came close, posting an offensive rating of 107. It’s just finding someone to do just enough to push things over the top. Austin Rivers’ defense was one; Lance Stephenson scratched the surface (7 points on 2-2 3PA, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) but fell victim to Rivers’ rotation that allowed Jamal Crawford (likely for spacing purposes but managed to backfire) to fill in for him.

    Until the bench figures it out or Doc Rivers flat out quits the all-bench lineup (tonight the bunch posted a net rating of -56.0 in 6 minutes of play) these issues will persist. Against the Warriors, that setup likely won’t lead to a positive outcome, and if so, it’ll be minute in comparison to winning four games against this group.

    But it’s a healthy sign to see the Clippers finish so close amidst all the problems. Take that for what it’s worth — part two of this season series occurs in the middle of the month so maybe progress will be made in the interim.

    NEXT GAME: @ Houston Rockets, Nov. 7, 10:30 P.M.