The Los Angeles Clippers led their opponent by 23 points on Thursday night at the Staples Center.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, the clock read 7:26 in the second quarter and the opponent was the Golden State Warriors. Over the next 31 minutes, the Warriors showed why they are the NBA champions by outscoring their Southern California rivals by 30 and remained undefeated with a 124-117 victory.
Stephen Curry was his usual superstar self. The reigning MVP had 40 points, 11 rebounds and three steals. Curry shot 11-of-22 from the field, 6-of-14 from 3-point range and 12-of-12 from the free throw line. Curry scored 13 points in the final 6:31, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:47 left in the game. But a total team effort made the comeback possible.
Klay Thompson: With Curry and Draymond Green in foul trouble after just four minutes, Thompson kept the Warriors within striking distance by scoring 15 points in the opening quarter. Thompson also hit the 3-pointer that gave the Warriors the lead with 2:43 left in the fourth quarter. He finished with a season-high 25 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, 3-of-5 from 3-point range and 10-of-12 from the free throw line. Thompson came into the game averaging just 15.5 points and had just 14 free throw attempts all season.
Harrison Barnes: While the Splash Brothers rested to start the fourth quarter, Barnes took over the offense by scoring eight points in the first 2:12 to cut the deficit to one. Barnes finished with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Barnes pulled down seven rebounds, including one offensive rebound. It was that offensive rebound that led to Curry’s go-ahead 3-pointer.
Andre Iguodala: Iguodala splashed two 3-pointers and added an assist in a span of 1:37 in the fourth quarter to single-handedly cut a 10-point deficit to just two. He also executed an out-of-bounds play perfectly when he passed to a cutting Green for an easy layup with 68 seconds left that gave the Warriors a 3-point lead. The Finals MVP finished with eight points, seven assists and four rebounds. Iguodala led the team with a +19 in the fourth quarter.
Green: Green picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter. But Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton kept him in the game. Green repaid his coach’s trust by not picking up another foul, which can be very difficult against a team like the Clippers. He also sparked the Warriors by scoring 15 points in the third quarter, including making a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the left corner.
Ian Clark: With Shaun Livingston (hip) and Leandro Barbosa (flu) out, Walton put Clark into the game in the second half to provide rest to Thompson and Curry. It was Clark who started the sequence that led to Green’s 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter. After a miss by Jamal Crawford, Clark pulled down the defensive rebound, drove all the way to the lane, sucked the defense in and passed to a wide-open Green in the left corner. Clark registered a +6 during the 5:14 he played that bridged the third and fourth quarters.
Offense: The Warriors scored 39 points in the fourth quarter. They shot 11-of-15 (.733) from the field, 8-of-9 (.889) from 3-point range and 9-of-10 (.900) from the free throw line. Out of the 11 field goals, 10 were assisted. Over the game’s final 32:55, the potent Warriors scored 97 points.
Defense: After allowing the Clippers to score 68 points on 60.5 percent shooting in the first half, the Warriors held them to 49 points on 40 percent shooting in the second half. After Walton unleashed the Warriors’ small ball lineup with 5:41 left, the Clippers scored just 8 points and missed nine of their final 12 shots.
The Warriors finished the game at 52.1 percent shooting from the field, 56.7 percent from beyond the arc and converted 31 of 36 free throws. The visitors assisted on 31 of 38 field goals.
Chris Paul made his first seven shots and led Los Angeles with 35 points, eight assists and three steals. Paul returned after missing two games with a groin injury he suffered on Nov. 4 against the Warriors at Oracle Arena. Blake Griffin had 27 points, six rebounds and five assists. Jamal Crawford started for an injured J.J. Redick (back) and finished with 15 points. Austin Rivers came off the bench with 10 points and two steals. DeAndre Jordan added nine points and 10 rebounds.
The Clippers lost despite being the first team to shoot at least 50 percent from the field and 40 percent on 3-pointers against the Warriors this season. They lost despite committing 11 turnovers and turning 19 Golden State turnovers into 28 points. After winning its first four games, Los Angeles (6-5) has lost five of seven and is already six games behind Golden State in the Pacific Division.
The Warriors continue their perfect start to the season. They are the fifth team in NBA history to start a season 13-0 and only the second defending champions to do so. The other was the 1957-58 Boston Celtics. The Warriors have also won a franchise-record 17 consecutive regular-season games dating back to last season.
The Clippers have shown in two games this season that they are capable of playing with the Warriors. They had double-digit leads in the fourth quarter in both games before collapsing late and losing. The Clippers are talented for sure, but they lack the killer instinct the Warriors have. The Warriors have won 68 straight games when they have at least a 15-point lead.
Here is another statistic that shows how special Golden State is. Per ESPN Stats and Info, the Warriors are 3-3 since the start of last season when they trailed by 20 points at any point in a game. The rest of the NBA? A combined 13-486.
On the road to 73 wins:
2015-16 Golden State Warriors 13-0
1995-96 Chicago Bulls 11-2