Below are five things to take from the Clippers’ 109-105 Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center:
1. The Clippers collapsed in the final moments. Just when it appeared the Clippers rallied with a collective effort of free throws, key three-pointers and defensive stops, they squandered it all away. The Clippers went scoreless in the final minute with four missed shots, three turnovers and a costly foul. First, Blake missed a layup and a tipback. Secondly, Darren Collison lost the ball out of bounds. Third, Collison made a costly foul on Draymond Green, who made both free throws for the Warriors’ 107-105 lead with 24 seconds left, and stepping out of bounds on the final possession. Fourth, Chris Paul committed a turnover after meeting a double team and missing both free throws on the second to last final possession, souring an otherwise impressive performance in which he posted 28 points on 10 of 23 shooting, eight assists and four steals.
This all punctuated a late fourth-quarter stretch in which the Clippers contributed nearly everywhere. DeAnde Jordan made both of his free throws. Chris Paul sank trey at the top of the key. Collison intercepted a pass before converting on one of two foul shots. Though Harrison Barnes made a three after Clippers blew a fastbreak, they answered by pounding the ball into Griffin, who drew a foul and made both foul shots. But all that set up was an a 0-1 first-round series deficit to Golden State.
2. The game featured a whole lot of whistles. Mere hours after Clippers coach Doc Rivers lamented that the heavier emphasis on hand checking has hurt the game, so many incidents illustrated his clairvoyance. David Lee and DeAndre Jordan traded offensive fouls in the first 20 seconds. Blake Griffin collected his third foul a mere 39 seconds in the second quarter, his fifth to close out the third period and his sixth with 48.3 seconds left.
Warriors forward Andre Iguodala picked up his third foul before the end of the first quarter, his fifth foul with 9:41 left in the third and his final one with 3:04 remaining. Clippers guard Chris Paul collected four fouls early in the third quarter. This all contributed to both the Clippers and Golden State combining for 51 fouls en route to a combined 41 of 60 from the free throw line.
It was expected that the Clippers and Warriors would play a physical series. The two teams don’t like each other. The Warriors have not taken a liking with Griffin, whom Klay Thompson labeled a flopper and irritated Jermaine O’Neal enough to confront him in the hallway. While there was certainly some physical play, the officials seemed overly intent on controlling the game. And as a result, the quality of play worsened.
3. Jamal Crawford had a rough shooting performance. So much for all the talk about his Sixth Man of the Year honors. Or successfully hoisting a half-court shot to end the first quarter. The normally prolific Crawford posted only nine points on 2-of-11 shooting, a shooting clip the Clippers could absorb with their depth. But it’s safe to say Crawford will need to play much better both because he represents a huge chunk of their bench scoring and this was decided in the final moments.
4. J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan made an impact. The Clippers received all they needed from those players. Redick tallied 22 points on a 8-of-11 clip and 4-of-5 mark from three-point range. Jordan added 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, 14 rebounds and five blocks. But with Jordan’s seven turnovers, Griffin’s foul trouble and the Clippers’ poor-late game execution, such efforts went to waste.
5. The Clippers opened the game with inconsistency. They opened up the first quarter firing on all cylinders and closed it with a Jamal Crawford half-court shot. Yet, that collective energy that ensured a 12-1 start and the Warriors missing the first eight shots quickly dissipated. Beyond the Warriors answering with a 10-2 run, the Clippers opened the second quarter with Blake Griffin picking up his third foul and the team missing its first six shots. That sluggishness coupled with the high number of fouls morphed an initial route into an upset.
Doc Rivers: ‘The key is to have emotion, but not get emotional’
J.J. Redick has same concerns as everyone else – Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry
Blake Griffin does not have Jermaine O’Neal’s number, so not sure about hard feelings