ORACLE ARENA — After a day of blow-outs and not-so-entertaining basketball — save the first half of Heat vs. Lakers — NBA fans were given a Christmas Night treat.
The Warriors’ 105-103 victory over the Clippers was full of highlights, scuffles, and down-to-the-second shots to make up the most exciting game of the day.
With their third straight win after a rocky couple of weeks, the Warriors finally found a way to outrebound a team and take care of the basketball in the same game.
David Lee, who finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, told SFBay if the team is able to win the battle of the boards and keep turnovers low they’ll be a hard team to beat:
“Keeping them out of transition by keeping our turnovers low and finding a way to rebound with all the athletes they have, if we can do those two things we’ll be in the game and we did those two things tonight.”
The two California teams have a history of getting chippy and taking games down to the last minute, and this game was no exception. Warriors coach Mark Jackson refuses to call it a rivalry — but with continued games of brawls and battles, it sure looks like one.
Jackson said neither team has done nothing of importance to be called a rivalry and when asked why the teams don’t like each other he laughed it off:
“We like them. Merry Christmas.”
Clippers dunking-star Blake Griffin, who was ejected from the game with 10:23 to play, didn’t have such a cheery outlook. He said the Warriors were selling the fouls to the refs:
“If you look at it I didn’t do anything and got thrown out of the game. It all boils down to they [referees] fell for it. To me that’s cowardly, cowardly basketball.”
The Clippers opened the game on 8-0 run forcing Jackson to call a timeout to regroup. The Warriors answered back, scoring 11 quick points and forcing Doc Rivers to call a timeout himself.
But the Warriors got into foul trouble early (eight fouls in first quarter) and continued to send the Clippers to the charity stripe where they extended their lead to 13 points.
Los Angeles maintained their lead for the first half of the second quarter as the Warriors shot just 5-of-12. Lob City did what they do best, sending alley-oop passes to Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
With just over three minutes in the first half, a Klay Thompson miss went to the floor. Bogut made his way into the scramble before rolling the ball out to Curry who rattled in a three and cut the Clippers lead to just four points.
On the ensuing possession Chris Paul was charged with an offensive foul that sent Curry sliding across the hardwood and the crowd to their feet.
In the waning moments of the half, Andre Iguodala, for the second time in the game, threw the ball out-of-bounds off a Clippers player in order to maintain possession. Lee closed out the half with a slam dunk from the inbound pass that put the Warriors within two points at 53-51.
Golden State grabbed the lead in the opening minutes of third quarter, but the score went back-and-forth while the highlight reel filled up. A rare Thompson dunk on a fast break pass from Iguodala put the Warriors on top 60-57.
As the third quarter buzzer sounded, Griffin and Draymond Green got tangled up and had words. During the break between quarters the officials reviewed the scuffle and charged Griffin with a technical foul. Green was given a Flagrant-2 foul and ejected from the game.
Green backed away from questions about a rivalry and instead described both teams as wanting to win:
“It’s two hard-playing teams. At the end of the day they want to win and we want to win. Both teams have something to play for.”
With over a minute into in the final quarter, Bogut and and Griffin got tangled under the basket and arms swirled as the two big men went at each other.
Griffin recieved his second technical foul and was ejected from the game while Bogut was charged a Flagrant-1 and a technical — but remained on the court.
The game was tight, with seven lead changes and eight ties in the fourth quarter alone.
With 3:47 to play the Clippers took a 97-96 lead on Paul free throws, but less than a minute later Curry responded with a pair of free throws himself to reclaim the lead 98-97.
Golden State broke the triple -digit barrier with a Curry trey, which was answered by a Paul driving layup to tie the game again. Curry drove for his own layup before Paul tied the game once more 103-103 with free throws.
Harrison Barnes — who had a quiet 14 points — made good on a pair of free throws with just over a minute left to play.
Paul drove to tie the game with just 11 seconds on the clock but the ball slowly rolled around the rim before falling off, forcing the Clippers to foul in the final seconds.
Iguodala missed both free throws giving the Clippers a glimmer of hope, but Paul’s shot was blocked and sent out of bounds by Thompson.
Thompson said his mindset was to just make it tough on Paul down to the last second:
“I just didn’t quit and got a good block on him.”
With a final opportunity, Los Angeles went for the win as a Jamal Crawford three-pointer fell just short at the buzzer.
The action wasn’t finished after the Warriors victory. A scuffle broke out under the Clippers basket between Paul and Bogut. Barnes came to break things up, shoving Paul out of the way before chaos ensued in front of the Warriors bench.
Now 1-1 against each other this season, the Warriors and Clippers will play each other two more times and once more at Oracle on Jan. 30, another nationally televised game.
The Warriors, now 17-13 overall (8th in the West) stay home to play Phoenix (6th in the West) on Friday, before heading out on a season-long seven-game road trip.
The Warriors improved to 10-13 all-time on Christmas while the Clippers fell to 4-8. … The Warriors were the only home team to win on Christmas Day this year. … The Warriors handed the Clippers just their fourth Western Conference loss this season. … Andrew Bogut and David Lee both grabbed double-digit rebounds, the 10th consecutive game they’ve done so, making them the first teammates to grab 10-plus rebounds in 10-straight games since Rich Kelley and Truck Robinson of the New Orleans Jazz did so in 1978.