What a ride it was. They fought through adversity. They disproved the disbelievers. And they battled till the very end. Unfortunately for the Golden State Warriors, their season came to an end on Saturday night at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers as they lost Game 7 of their first-round series, 126-121. Game 7 lived up to the expectations. From the get-go, it was a thrilling display of offensive prowess from both teams. The Warriors were able to gain control of the game in the first half, but the second half proved too much, and the Clippers were able to pull away.
The Dubs should have no regrets stemming from this loss. Each and every player left everything they had out on the court on both ends of the floor. Stephen Curry showed why he is among the top two point guards in the Association by putting up 33 points, 9 assists, five boards, 3-7 from three, and 16-16 from the foul line. Draymond Green continued his fantastic series by not only taking on the defensive responsibility of Blake Griffin, but also scoring 24 points on 9-13 from the field and 5-8 from three-point line. Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala also played admirable defense against Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, and J.J. Redick and combined for 29 points and 5-9 on threes on the offensive end.
The Warriors burst out of the gates to start the game by jumping out to a 19-10 lead in the first six minutes of the first quarter. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green hit their first few threes, and the Dubs looked like they had the Clips on their heels. But careless turnovers coming out of a timeout allowed the Clippers to get back into the game. Stephen Curry and bench guard Jordan Crawford extended the Warriors’ cushion in the final six minutes of the quarter to give the Dubs a 32-22 advantage going into the second quarter.
The second quarter looked to be going the Clippers’ way at the start. The Clips’ bench scorers brought them back within striking distance, as Darren Collison and J.J. Redick found soft spots in the defense early on. Then Jamal Crawford got hot. The Warriors were able to close the quarter strong thanks to Draymond Green and Steph Curry, but Jamal Crawford’s 14 second quarter points cut the Dubs’ halftime lead to eight, with the score being 64-56.
The third quarter was where the Warriors lost the game. After getting a scoring lift from Marresse Speights, along with Iguodala and Curry, out of the halftime break, the Clippers went on a run that would give them their first lead of the night. The trio of Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, and Blake Griffin began to pick apart the tired Warrior defense, at one point possessing an eight-point lead over Golden State. The Dubs were able to make a mini-run at the end of the third to make the score 84-87 in favor of the Clippers, but they had lost their hold on the game in the process.
The fourth quarter of this game was one of the most entertaining quarters of the playoffs thus far. In an even contest through the first eight minutes of the quarter, both teams traded baskets, changing leads multiple times during that span. Curry, Thompson, Green, and Iguodala manufactured their points at the foul line and at the three point line, while Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan accumulated their points in the paint.
Eventually, the size of Griffin and Jordan did the Warriors in. Draymond Green and David Lee played their hearts out, but Griffin and Jordan were just too much. Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford seized control of the game in the last four minutes, and Griffin and Jordan finished the job. Curry attempted to spearhead a late Golden State comeback, but a DeAndre Jordan rejection of a Curry layup stopped it cold. The Dubs got within three points within the final minute, but Blake Griffin drew a foul on a made layup.
The Warriors should be extremely proud of what they were able to accomplish over the last two weeks. There is plenty of uncertainty regarding the status of coach Mark Jackson, and it will likely take a while to digest such a tough loss. But they should remember that no one, not one, expert on ESPN picked them to win this series. People around the nation expected the Clippers to win in four or five games. Without Bogut, the Warriors showed tremendous heart and fought to the final buzzer. The future is bright for this organization. This defeat will be the gateway to many victories on the horizon.