Chris Paul: It all starts with defensive pressure, which leads to offensive efficiency

Guard Chris Paul on Wednesday was asked if his team can come up with another gem like the one it produced Monday in a 138-98 victory over the Golden State Warriors that evened their best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series.

“We hope so,” said Paul, who is nursing a sore right hamstring. “Everything starts with our defense and we defended pretty well to start that game. It’s one of those things where when you’re playing defense, you try to put pressure on them offensively, too.”

The Clippers, who play Thursday at Golden State in Game 3, certainly did that Monday.

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Chris Paul’s right hamstring still a minor concern

Chris Paul’s right hamstring has become a bit of an issue, but apparently not a big one. He injured it in the first half of Saturday’s loss to Golden State in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series.

Paul played 36 minutes in that one. He played 27 minutes in Monday’s 40-point victory in Game 2, but no starter played more than 30 in that one because they were not needed in the fourth quarter.

Coach Doc Rivers said at Tuesday’s practice he was going to limit Paul over the next two days.

“He needs it because I think he’s doing everything he can with it, to be honest,” said Rivers, whose team will play Thursday at Golden State in Game 3. “Two days of huge rest for him. It’s funny, you go into the series talking about J.J. (Redick) and Jamal (Crawford), and we left the game last night thinking we need two days for CP, and so these days will be good for him. He won’t do much. He may do a little tomorrow, but nothing today. We’re not doing anything today anyway.”

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Blake Griffin says team did not hang its head after Game 1 loss to Warriors

The Clippers somewhat surprisingly lost Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series to Golden State on Saturday at Staples Center. They bounced back in a big way Monday by destroying the Warriors to the tune of 138-98 in Game 2, also at Staples Center.

Blake Griffin, who Monday scored 35 points – a career playoff high – suggested Tuesday at practice that the team keeping its collective head up helped.

“After Game 1 you can’t just hang your head and say, ‘This is terrible, this is awful,’ ” Griffin said. “You have to accept that feeling and you have to accept what you did wrong.”

By the same token, the team can’t get too full of itself after one fantastic performance, Griffin intimated.

“You can’t expect every game to go like that,” Griffin said. “So I think it’s just about coming in today and going over what we made mistakes on and correcting them and moving on from there.”

Game 3 is Thursday at Golden State.

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Bench play Monday was off the charts for Clippers in 40-point romp

The Clippers scored only 26 points off the bench in their 109-105 loss to Golden State on Saturday in the first game of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.

It was much different Monday when the bench came through with a whopping 58 points in the Clippers’ 138-98 rout of the Warriors at Staples Center. Leading the way was Danny Granger with 15 points, Hedo Turkoglu had 13 and Darren Collison 12. Jamal Crawford started slowly, but he finished with nine points on 4 of 8 from the field.

“I thought our bench tonight was fantastic,” coach Doc Rivers said in the post-game news conference. “Great in the second quarter, obviously great in the fourth quarter. They shot the ball well, they defended. And that’s what we need our bench to do. That’s what that was about, just no let-up.”

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 138-98 Game 2 win over Golden State Warriors

Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin drives to the hoop under pressure from Golden State Warriors guard Klay ThompsonIg during the first half in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs, Monday, April 21, 2014, in Los Angeles.(Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)

Los Angeles Clippers Blake Griffin drives to the hoop under pressure from Golden State Warriors guard Klay ThompsonIg during the first half in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs, Monday, April 21, 2014, in Los Angeles.(Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)

Below are five things to take from the Clippers’ 139-98 Game 2 win over the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center:

1. Blake Griffin improved tremendously.
Just as impressive as his playoff career-high 35 points on 13 of 17 shootin entail his zero fouls and zero spilled cups of water on Warriors fans sitting near front row. Within a two-day span, Griffin morphed from a player intent on trying to intimidate Golden State with physical play toward a player intimidating the Warriors for more substantial reasons.

Griffin played a complete game, posting on an array of post-ups, mid-range jumpers, and dunks. He completed that job description by providing endless energy and hustle. But he also did so without trying to showboat or make silly decisions that would lead to happy-whistling officials intent on keeping the contentiousness between both teams at bay. Of course, Griffin improved simply by managing to stay on the floor beyond the 19 minutes in the Clippers’ Game 1 loss. But he also proved his value on his extended time by showing off all the qualities that has helped him become a more complete player.

2. The Clippers’ locked in defensively\. So much for the Warriors guard living up to Mark Jackson’s year-long proclamation that he is the NBA’s best shooter of all the time. Curry finished with 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting, albeit with only two points in the first half. He failed to make a single basket until the 2:45 mark of the second quarter before missing his first four shots. The Clippers routinely shut off Curry’s pick-and-rolls, which both gave him little room to shoot, drive or find an open teammate.

The Clippers carried that aggressiveness in other areas, which enabled them to absorb Curry’s improved second half. The Clippers forced 25 turnovers and converted on 23 fast-break points.
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Clippers have injuries to monitor with Chris Paul, J.J. Redick

The Clippers have some concerns, and they go beyond entering Game 2 Monday night trailing 1-0 in their first-round series to the Golden State Warriors.

Clippers guard Chris Paul expressed his right hamstring that he injured in the Clippers’ Game 1 loss on Saturday as “okay” after receiving treatment. But how much concern does coach Doc Rivers have?

“I don’t know,” Rivers said trailing off before being asked why. “I don’t know. I don’t talk about that.”
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Warriors coach Mark Jackson knows this series has only just begun

Mark Jackson brought his Golden State Warriors to town and took the opener of the best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series from the host Clippers on Saturday.

The teams square off in Game 2 Monday night at Staples Center, and Warriors coach Mark Jackson knows there is still plenty of basketball to play, even if his team has taken homecourt advantage away from the Clippers.

“We understand it’s a best of seven,” Jackson said at practice Sunday. “We’re playing against an outstanding basketball team who presents a lot of challenges. It’s far from over.”

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Stephen Curry responds to NBA statement that Chris Paul was fouled by Draymond Green

There has been lots of talk about that play with 18.9 seconds left to play in Saturday’s playoff opener between the visiting Golden State Warriors and the Clippers at Staples Center.

Chris Paul had the ball for the Clippers and was trying to get around a corner so he could drive to the basket. Draymond Green came over and fouled Paul, who lost the ball out of  bounds. The only problem is, the foul wasn’t called. There was a review of the play, but not for the purposes of whether a foul had been committed as that is not reviewable. It was to see who touched the ball last and it was Paul, the ball  being award to the Warriors, who were up by two points on their way to a 109-105 victory.

The NBA on Sunday issued a statement that said while officials properly reviewed what was reviewable, Paul was indeed fouled and he should have been awarded two free throws.

Stephen Curry, one of the Warriors’ two 3-point-shooting guards, reacted to the NBA’s statement at practice Sunday at UCLA.

“The ref was standing there and he made a judgement call,” Curry said of the non-call on the foul by Green. “The replay was in our favor. Refereeing, there’s nothing perfect about that. They make mistakes every once in a while and I’m sure during the course of the game, they could go back and admit they were bad calls. That was just a crucial moment in the game. I don’t like it myself. It takes away what we did as a team by mulling what could’ve happened.”

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NBA: Foul should have been called on Warriors’ Draymond Green with 18.9 seconds left

Rod Thorn, president of basketball operations for the NBA, issued a statement Sunday saying replays showed that Golden State’s Draymond Green did foul the Clippers’ Chris Paul with 18.9 seconds left to play in the Warriors’ 109-105 victory over the Clippers on Saturday in the opener of their Western Conference playoff series at Staples Center.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, it was not called and that part of the play was not reviewable. When officials reviewed the sequence, they were only looking for one thing – who touched the ball last before it went out of bounds? That was Paul, and the ball was awarded to Golden State.

“After reviewing postgame video, we have concluded that the instant replay review of the out-of-bounds call with 18.9 seconds remaining in the game involving the Clippers’ Chris Paul and the Warriors’ Draymond Green was administered correctly by the referees and the correct decision was made in awarding the ball to the Warriors,” Thorn’s statement read. “Under the existing rule, referees may only use instant replay to determine which player caused the ball to go out and a limited set of other reviewable matters (see summary of rule here: http://t.co/IQ2qM6BOjb). Just prior to the ball going out-of-bounds, Paul was fouled by Green and Paul should have been granted two free throws. Contact preceding out-of-bounds calls is not a reviewable matter.”

The Clippers were down 107-105 at the time.

 

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David Lee had a terrific game for the Warriors in win over Clippers

With all the talk about Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and their 3-point efficiency ahead of Saturday’s Western Conference playoff opener, the two didn’t even have real good games in their 109-105 victory over the Clippers.

Curry scored 14 points on 6 of 16 shooting and Thompson had 22 points on 7 of 20 from the field.

Power forward David Lee, however, perhaps was his team’s best player. He scored 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting and pulled down 13 rebounds.
“Well, I got off to (a bit) of a slow start really because of getting hurt last year, this is really my first playoff game tonight,” Lee said post-game. “So I got off to a bit of a slow start and once again, just like our team, I just tried to be resilient and the guys told me to keep being aggressive. The second half, found a better rhythm and when the shot-blockers came, I thought we did a pretty good job with interior passing and getting a lot of easy buckets in the paint through that.”

The Warriors had 48 points in the paint, the Clippers 42. Golden State absolutely did have some nifty passing in the paint that led to easy layups.

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