HIGHLIGHTS -- Warriors take season series from Clippers
Stephen Curry finished 6-for-8 from three-point range to earn his game-high 28 points. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Want proof that Stephen Curry’s ankle is feeling just fine?
How about when he galloped as if he had springs in his heels back to the Golden State Warriors’ bench after knocking down his fourth three-pointer of the fourth quarter as part of a 106-99 victory against the visiting Los Angeles Clippers on Monday afternoon.
“I need to practice it I guess,” Curry said after the win. “My ankle is fine. When I suit up, I’m not going to have to worry about my ankle too much. I’m just having fun playing the game and making it my onus to enjoy myself.”
Leaping off one foot and then the next in celebration of his three-pointer that spaced the Warriors to a 99-95 cushion with a minute-and-a-half remaining was just one of Curry’s highlights on the afternoon.
He did it with his shot, finishing 6-for-8 from three-point range to earn his game-high 28 points.
And he did it with the pass, highlighted by a perfectly timed one-handed bounce pass from halfcourt that led Jarrett Jack, who then switched from his right to left hand on a reverse layup that put the Warriors ahead 90-86 with six minutes remaining. It was just one of Curry’s six assists on the night.
“I’m sure if he missed some shots probably, it’d look like the ankle bothered him but when you’re in a rhythm like that,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “But in all seriousness, he’s a professional. Takes care of his business, gets treatment, puts himself in position to bounce back.
“We were never concerned that it had anything to do with prior ankle issues. He has certainly bounced back with another statement game.”
It’s a luxury having Curry in that type of shooting zone, especially when Jack is just as hot. Jack finished with 18 points off the bench and added 10 assists. While Jamal Crawford has earned the share of the hype as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate as primarily a scorer, it’s Jack who also contributes as a distributor and passer.
With him and Curry on the floor together, and Klay Thompson as an additional perimeter threat, the Warriors offense is difficult to guard.
“We have a lot of chemistry and Jarrett has been playing great all year,” Curry said. “We work well together when he has the ball and I’m coming off screens, and vice-versa, so it’s a lot of fun playing with a cagey veteran like him.”
In terms of Jack playing the point guard late in games, Curry said: “It takes the pressure off me and puts the pressure on him. I have a lot of freedom to run off screens and just keep defenses honest. We have a lot of shooters so we want to make sure that they have to guard that, and we’re playing great for each other.”
David Lee, returning from a sprained left ankle that kept him out on Saturday at the New Orleans Hornets, finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes.
After losing five of their last six games, the Warriors have won two consecutive games. They will face the Oklahoma City Thunder, the league’s best record, at Oracle on Wednesday. The Warriors conclude a stretch of 11 of 12 games against opponents with winning records on the road at the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Blake Griffin says he is not scared of the Warriors
Clippers highlight-reel forward Blake Griffin didn’t seem to take the Warriors too seriously.
“They’re a good team, they’re solid, but by no means are we scared or worried about them,” Griffin said following the Clippers third loss in four games against the Warriors. “They played us well a few times, so you’ve got to tip your hat to them.”
Griffin was asked later what he meant when he said he wasn’t worried about them.
“Well we don’t play them anymore in the regular season so that’s one reason,” Griffin said. “If we do play down the stretch then we play them down the stretch. We’ll worry about that later.”
Griffin was efficient, and too much inside for Golden State, finishing with a team-high 26 points on 11-for-18 shooting and added 13 rebounds and eight assists.
“You’ve got to give them credit, they played the best they can play in three of these games we’ve played against them,” Griffin said.
Battle of the bench
The Clippers’ “Tribe called Bench” scored 44 points but was nearly answered by the Warrior’s golden reserves, which combined for 38 points.
Jack and Crawford led all bench scorers. Jack scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter in addition to his 10 assists and six rebounds. Crawford totaled 24 points with no rebounds and one assist.
Crawford connected on a three-pointer gave the Clippers a 93-90 lead with 4:13 remaining, but Jack answered with a layup on the other end as part of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Chris Paul’s health
Chris Paul, who missed three consecutive games with a bruised right kneecap before returning against the Washington Wizards on Saturday, played 33 minutes on Monday. The Clippers superstar point guard scored just four points on 1-for-7 shooting but did add nine assists.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said pregame that he would limit Paul’s minutes based on how he was feeling. The Clippers face the Thunder on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
“I was trying to get through it,” Paul said. “I sort of take this loss and put it on me because I feel like I hurt the team being out there and trying to play through it.”
Both the Warriors and Clippers responded well to the earlier 1 p.m. start, at least offensively, as each squad shot 72.2 percent in a 33-33 tie at the end of the first quarter. The Clippers moved the ball well to 11 assists.
The Warriors opened the second quarter on a 10-0 run to open the second quarter and led 53-52 at halftime. Golden State shot 54.1 percent in the first half and the Clippers shot 51.4 percent.
The Warriors led 69-62 with 5:09 remaining in the third quarter before the Clippers closed the quarter on an 18-4 run. Both Curry and David Lee had four fouls entering the fourth quarter.
Still mum on Bogut
There is still no word on when Warriors center Andrew Bogut may return to live action. The Warriors center (left ankle) played just four games through Nov. 7 before going out indefinitely as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery. He has participated in shootaround, but has not yet pract
Jackson was asked about the status of Bogut prior to Monday’s game, stating: “In all honesty, I don’t really pay attention to that as far as if he’s getting closer. He’s on the floor. I look forward to the day he’s in uniform.
“There’ll be no pressure on him; he’ll continue to have treatment, continue to go through his rehab, continue to work his way onto the floor and work his way into practice and all of that, but I don’t get caught up in it as a coach. I think we’ve got to keep it moving and look forward to having him one day whenever that day comes.”
Jackson tributes MLK
The Warriors showed video tributes of Martin Luther King Jr. throughout the game with player interviews. Jackson spoke before the game about the importance of the day to him and his players, and said he would not be in his position as coach if it weren’t for the efforts of Dr. King.
“When you think about the sacrifice that he made, putting his life, his family on the front line, just an incredible strength, courage, and one of the greatest assists ever made. I think not only me today but there are some folks in different areas in position today that are there today because of Dr. King and his sacrifice.
“And I will not minimize it to just African Americans; he made this place a better place and I’m just glad we take a moment to celebrate and embrace his life and his legacy.”