Below are five things to take from Clippers’ 113-103 Game 5 over Golden State Warriors at Staples Center beyond taking a 3-2 lead having a chance to close their first-round series with 6 Thursday in Oakland:
1. The Clippers played looser. Two days ago, the Clippers appeared sapped of energy after the fall out regarding Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racially disparaging remarks on an audio tape. On Tuesday, the Clippers appeared rejuvenated after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a life-time ban from Sterling having any involvement from the organization. This marks the beginning a long process in finding a new owner and handling a potentially lengthy litigation battle with Sterling. It’s also interesting that Blake Griffin’s 18 points and seven rebounds came after shooting only 2 of 9 through three quarters. But with the sold-out crowd at Staples Center yelling “We are one,” the Clippers played with the same energy, athleticism and memorable play-making that made this team such a dangerous playoff team beforehand.
2. DeAndre Jordan showed tremendous improvement. The man who mostly disappeared in a Game 3 loss seemed everywhere in Game 4. The man who went scoreless in Game 3 dropped 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting in Game 4. The man who lacked much of a defensive identity in Game 3 morphed back to his season-long defensive credentials with 18 rebounds and four blocks. Attribute this difference toward Jordan playing more inspired amid all the adversity. But it also suggests that rarely will Jordan will have a bad game. Instead, he has channeled his efforts all season into maintaining consistency as the Clippers’ defensive anchor.
3. The Clippers boasted balance. Beyond Jordan’s contributions, the Clippers relied on their usual cast of stars. They received a solid mid-range game from Griffin (18 points and seven rebounds). The Clippers boasted dependable playmaking from Chris Paul (18 points and seven assists). They relied on high-volume shooting from Jamal Crawford (19) and unstoppable quickness from Darren Collison (15 points) off the bench. This formula isn’t anything new. But on a night where they struggled limiting Golden State offensively, the Clippers proved that their depth could make up the difference.
4. The Clippers cut down on their turnovers Perhaps because of more focus, the Clippers showed more improvement in the number of turnovers they committed in their Game 4 win (11) as opposed to their Game 3 loss (19). With how prolific Golden State still shot from three-point range (10 of 24) and featured a strong dose of so-called Splash Brothers in Stephen Curry (17 points) and Klay Thompson (21 points), the Clippers minimized a quick and prolific offensive team from hurting them in transition.
5. Hedo Turkoglu suffered a back injury The Clippers’ backup forward took a nasty charge from Warrirors forward David Lee with 7:47 left in the third quarter. Turkoglu suffered a lower back contusion and did not return, going scoreless in only five minutes of play.