OAKLAND – This first-round playoffs series, from the beginning, was going to be decided up front. Did the Warriors have enough muscle and hustle to neutralize the Clippers' supremely athletic big men?
The answer, as delivered Thursday night in Game 3, is no.
Failing once again to get enough production from their guards to offset the dominating big-man duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Warriors took a 98-96 loss before a disappointed sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.
The loss leaves the Warriors down two games to one in the best-of-seven series, which resumes with Game 4 at Oracle on Sunday afternoon.
Klay Thompson led Warriors scorers with 26 points. Five teammates scored in double figures: Stephen Curry had 16, Draymond Green 13, David Lee 12, Andre Iguodala 11 and Jermaine O'Neal 10.
But the Warriors were no match for Griffin (32 points, eight rebounds) and Jordan (14 points, 22 rebounds, five blocks and a dozen or so intimidations).
Curry's shooting miseries continued, as he finished 5-of-12 from the field. He made only three of eight 3-point attempts. He did, however, have a game-high 15 assists.
Though the Warriors grabbed more rebounds overall (52-47), led by Green's 11, it was the presence of Jordan and Griffin that owned the game and was a big reason the Warriors were held to 41.6 percent shooting. They missed numerous layups and open 3-pointers, missing 25 of 31 shots beyond the arc.
STANDOUT PERFORMER: After a forgettable first half during which he committed four turnovers in his first seven minutes off the bench, Green was the Warriors' most indispensible player in the second half.
In addition to Green's 11 points, he also had 13 rebounds, two assists, three steals and four blocks before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
TURNING POINT: With Griffin leading the way, the Clippers opened the second half on a 17-4 run, taking a 3-point halftime lead (46-43) to 63-47 with 6:37 left in the third quarter.
Griffin scored the first 10 points of the quarter, making five consecutive field goals.
The Warriors rallied late, getting as close as 97-96 in the final seconds, but Los Angeles never lost its lead.
INJURY REPORT: For the Warriors, C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery rehab) remains out but has been cleared for contact practices. C Andrew Bogut (fractured rib) and G Nemanja Nedovic (strained right calf) are out indefinitely.
For the Clippers, no reported injuries.
WHAT'S NEXT: The teams meet again Sunday at Oracle for Game 4, with Game 5 set for Tuesday in Los Angeles.