The final NBA matchup of the day on Christmas is usually an afterthought. Not this year. Not when positioning in the upper echelon of the Western Conference is at stake.
The Golden State Warriors were able to hang on to a 105-103 lead despite giving the Los Angeles Clippers multiple shots to tie or win with time winding down, and in the immediate aftermath of the final whistle the two teams scuffled as if to say, “Do you quarrel, sir?”
A very Shakespearean scene, indeed.
The postgame dust-up was in line with the rest of the contest, as Draymond Green and Blake Griffin had both been ejected earlier in the evening and overall the game was marked by a noticeable … shall we say, ungentlemanly conduct.
What I find so great about this is that it’s the Clippers. By now everyone is hip to their schtick. They’re a veritable highlight reel in waiting on the offensive end, with a frontcourt that’s athletic as hell that’s being spoonfed alley-oops by one of the best point guards to ever man the position. And oh yeah, they have a future Hall of Fame member as their head coach.
They’re also one of the most egregious examples we have of modern day floppery in the NBA and they seem to attract on the court drama more than any team in recent memory (sorry Knicks fans, just having an infuriatingly expensive and awful team does not equate to drama).
And for some reason, they’re hell bent on making the Warriors they’re archrival. You’d think they’d set their sights on a team a little higher in the standings, but I guess they really want a divisional rivalry to hang their hat on. So be it. At least it’s fun to watch.
The visiting team had some things to say about the fracas following the game, with Blake Griffin dubbing the Warriors actions as “cowardly” and head coach Doc Rivers characterizing the rough play as “something else”.
Say what you will about Golden State’s tactics. They worked, and as a result the Dubs got the statement win they needed in front of a national audience to announce they’re back on track. Sort of.
It still feels like the Warriors are winning games in spite of themselves, that they’re laboring for wins that may have been earned a little easier last season. Call it what you will — questionable lineups, inferior bench production, a lack of cohesiveness on offense, carelessness in taking care of the ball, merely so-so defense …
Sorry, got a little carried away there. The point it, the Warriors are finding their true identity in the rough patches, and if you’re going to measure them by their most recent showing, you’d probably label them as a good-to-great offensive team and an average defensive team with an uncanny ability to get under their opponents’ skin.
With Andrew Bogut doing his best Bill Laimbeer impersonation, the Splash Brothers doing their thing on offense, David Lee throwing in double-doubles on the regular and Andre Iguodala serving as the glue guy, that identity might actually take them pretty far. If they can get Harrison Barnes to take his game to another level and find some more minutes for Draymond, they might actually vault to the top of the West.
We shall see. For now, let’s just enjoy a nice Christmas win over the Clippers. If nothing else, our boys proved they’re game for whatever kind of game L.A. wants to play.