LOS ANGELES-Steph Curry went off again. Blake Griffin sustained another injury. And the Golden State Warriors pretty much had their way with the Los Angeles Clippers the moment their All-Star forward was knock out of the Saturday matinee contest with a concussion. For the better part of the first quarter of their collision with the Warriors at Staples Center, the Clippers played their Pacific Division rivals pretty evenly.
Moments after Griffin was able to walk off the basketball court into the locker room, his day officially wrapped up, it wasn’t too long afterwards that the wind underneath the Clippers’ wings went out the door with him. Playing without Kevin Durant, the Warriors went back to old reliable in Curry, who went nuclear in just 29 minutes of action, scoring 45 points in his team’s 121-105 win.
Curry made half of his shots (8 of 16) from beyond the arc and connected on 11 of his 21 field goal attempts from two-point range.
“I just knew right away when I got free for a couple of threes in the first quarter, and when they went down I started to get a rhythm, but beyond that you just keep your head down and keep shooting, keep being aggressive, and that’s really it,” Curry said. “There’s no thought process, but you know when your shot is feeling better than other nights, just play and have fun.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers knows that Curry, a two-time NBA regular season most valuable player, is going to get his points. He wanted his team to do was to at least make Curry work for his point total. Oh, that injury thing that keeps rearing its ugly head in robbing Clippers starters of significant playing time, Rivers isn’t buying that as an excuse for lack of effort from his players.
“You know what I told them? Golden State are the world champions,” Rivers said. “We have 90 points of offense sitting in street clothes. If you play them ten times, they’d probably win all ten but you may win one and wanted this night to be the one, that’s what I told them after the game. But the only way that happens is you have to be willing for Steph Curry to make 45 [points] and you step back up to him and say, ‘make another one.’ I thought their offensive assault affected us and that’s the only thing I told them. You back up to no one ever, and that was my message after the game. You know we got all these injuries, so you step in and don’t back up. If they’re better, let them be better, but make them be better.”
Curry scored 29 of his 45 points by halftime. But the third quarter is where the roof collapsed on the Clippers. Golden State (32-8) outscored LA 39-21 in the third period to clench its 32nd win of the season. Rivers, as he has done all season, coached this game without a bevy of his starters and key contributors. In the midst of all the maladies that seem to have gripped the Clippers this season, the one constant has been guard Lou Williams.
Williams did his part, scoring a team-high 23 points in 24 minutes. Center DeAndre Jordan offered his usual double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. As far as the injury to Griffin, the accidental elbow that Golden State center JaVale McGee landed flush on the Clippers forward’s face, was indeed a scary moment for the sellout crowd to witness. Griffin landed on his head and lay almost motionless for a few minutes. Thankfully, Griffin managed to get up and walk off of the floor.
Jordan said the Clippers have to keep on pushing, despite the difficulty of seeing Griffin get hurt.
“It sucks when somebody goes down, especially another starter, that’s tough,” said Jordan. “But [Montrezl Harrell] and [C.J.Williams] have played well for us, [Sam Dekker] has played a lot better, and that’s why we have those guys. Whenever things like this happen or guys get in foul trouble, these guys are ready to play. You never want to see anybody go down, we’ve caught the injury bug this season and it sucks, but nobody is going to feel sorry for us and we still have to be able to come out here and compete.”