The Golden State Warriors came away from the season’s first back-to-back with a Los Angeles split after they were taken to the woodshed Thursday night by the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in L.A., 126-115.
Chris Paul became the first player since the steal became an official NBA statistic in 1973-74 to finish a game with at least 40 points, 15 assists and five steals as he scored 42 points, handed out 15 dimes and picked off six steals in 37 minutes.
The Clippers were coming off a 116-103 opening-night loss to the cross-arena rival Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, while the Warriors came down the coast on Thursday after crushing the Lakers at Oracle Arena Wednesday night, 125-94.
Stephen Curry paced the Warriors with 38 points and nine assists, but he also committed 11 turnovers. Golden State kicked it away 25 times, leading to 28 points for the Clippers. But it wasn’t that huge a factor; the Clips coughed up the ball 19 times and the Warriors converted those into 22 points of their own.
The depth concerns many had about the Warriors after Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry left last summer via free agency were evident on Thursday night. Golden State’s reserves—still without Harrison Barnes, who is nursing a bad left foot—registered just 14 points on 4-of-16 shooting and committed six turnovers. Marreese Speights led the bench mob with six points, while Draymond Green had a team-high eight rebounds and four points, but also committed five fouls and made just 1-of-4 from the free-throw line.
All five Warrior starters scored in double figures. David Lee had 22 points and Andrew Bogut finished with 17. Andre Iguodala recorded his first double-double as a Warriors with 14 points and 11 assists, while Klay Thompson—fresh off his career-high 38 points in the opener—came back to earth with 10 points.
Curry was 9-for-14 from 3-point range and did what he could to keep Golden State in the game, but Paul was just overpowering. The difference is in what Paul was able to do to the Warrior defenders—Paul attempted 17 free throws, making 16, while the Warriors as a unit only attempted 33 from the line. The Clippers made 33 out of 50 attempts from the stripe.
The Warriors also got hammered convincingly on the glass; Los Angeles outrebounded Golden State 44-33. DeAndre Jordan had 17 rebounds to go with nine points and Blake Griffin had 10 boards and 23 points before fouling out with less than four minutes to go.
Meanwhile, Jamal Crawford came off the bench for L.A. and outscored the Warriors bench single-handedly, pouring in 17 points. J.R. Redick also scored 17 for the Clips.
The Golden State defense got simply manhandled, surrendering 30 or more points in three quarters—36 in the first, 32 in the second and 33 in the fourth. Only their 52.6 percent shooting, including a sizzling 12-for-21 (57.1 percent) from deep, kept the Warriors in the game.
But the Dubs fell behind by 10 in the first quarter and never got much closer. Every time Golden State made a run, the Clippers were there to answer it—usually with Paul creating offense with a steal. In one third-period sequence, Paul and Griffin teamed up for three straight steals and three straight Paul lobs that led to Griffin dunks.
The opening three days leave the Clippers, Lakers and Warriors knotted at 1-1 in the Pacific Division, looking up at the 1-0 Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings. The Kings come to the O on Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. tip.