If the Clippers can’t beat the Warriors, when is Golden State going to lose its first game?
That was the question buzzing around the press box of Staples Center before the tipoff of what would become the most improbable comeback of the season for the Warriors. Stephen Curry, who finished with 40 points, said one thing after the game. “I need to get better,” Curry said to Rachel Nichols at the conclusion of the 124-117 win.
It wasn’t easy, Los Angeles looked to be in the best form they’d been all season. They shot 85.7% from the field in the opening eight minutes. Heading into the second quarter, they had outshot the Warriors, 70.8% to 44.4%, and had led by as many as 20 points.
The Clippers’ efforts were admirable, but could not be sustained from by a ferocious Warriors attack. Leading by as much as 23 at one point, their lead was cut to 14 by the half, and just six come the fourth quarter. Powered by a 25-point performance from Klay Thompson, 19 from Draymond Green and 21 from Harrison Barnes, Golden State found themselves within one point of Los Angeles with just under 10 minutes remaining.
It’s been a common theme for the Warriors. The Clippers shooting went silent, and the Warriors went on an 11-0 run late, grabbing a 113-112 lead with just over two minutes left to play. At the best possible time, Golden State found the long shot — they went 8-for-9 in the fourth quarter from downtown and 11-of-15 from the field.
“Those numbers are insane,” Blake Griffin said during the postgame. “They’re the better team. We’re trying to get to where they’re at.” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was as impressed as his star forward. “They made every big shot,” Rivers said. “Their ball found everyone.”
For Los Angeles, Jamal Crawford scored 15 points. Point guard Chris Paul scored a season-high 35 points. Later, he blamed himself for the massive self-destruction. At one point, Paul had outscored the entire Warriors squad, 18-16.
“We’ve got to find a way to win that game, and that’s on me,” Paul said.
The Warriors never-say-die mentality isn’t something we are unfamiliar with, but this effort, this game, was something special.
“We just continued to fight, and even when they were hitting everything, it still never felt like they were just controlling the game,” Green said. “When it’s like that, you’ve got a shot at winning.”
With the win, the Warriors became one of five teams in NBA history to open the season 13-0.
“Obviously, you don’t get a trophy for it, but it’s just a nice storyline and a nice way to start the season,” Curry said. “We want to enjoy this.”
In the second night of back-to-backs, Golden State will return home to Oracle and play host to the Chicago Bulls, looking for win number 14