Warriors topple Clippers in big-dog battle

In the Western Conference dog fight, the Warriors are proving to be the alpha dog.

Golden State continued to shine in the West Sunday in a 106-98 victory over the divisional rival, fifth-seed Clippers, giving the Warriors a their 15th straight win at home over a Western foe.

Draymond Green led the way Sunday, scoring 11 of his game-high 23 points in the first quarter. Green said that doing well against Western teams helps send a message to the teams they could face in the post season:

“These are teams that you may see down the road in the playoffs and you want to at least plant a seed in their brains of what you have done in the past … We definitely want to send a message in games like this. Whether we went small or went big we pretty much dominated the game.”

Meanwhile, Klay Thompson‘s recent shooting woes seemed to disappear as he added 12 of his own 21 points in the first including a deep three over multiple defenders at the end of the first quarter to give the Warriors a 29-28 lead.

Chris Paul made things difficult early on for Stephen Curry, keeping him scoreless through the first quarter.

But, undiscouraged, Curry continued to facilitate in the first half before unleashing his three-point dagger in the third including a step-back trey after a dribbling showcase in traffic that brought the crowd to their feet.

An even-keeled game changed hands and a sleepy second quarter woke up when a 13-2 run led by Shaun Livingston, who had 11 points in the frame, ignited the crowd with a reverse dunk, giving the Warriors a double-digit lead.

Livingston has been playing great recently, stringing together multiple double-digit efforts and added a season-high 21 points against the Clippers. Livingston told SFBay he feels great but is still looking to improve:

“I’m just staying grounded. I’m able to do what I do playing with Steph and Klay, those guys open it up for everybody and playing with Draymond and Iguodala. My role is to come off the bench and settle the team in make sure we get into good sets and stay aggressive.”

A three-pointer from JJ Redick at the end of the half cut the Warriors lead to seven, and Redick continued to shoot well, but Green had another double-digit quarter scoring 10 more in the third to give the Warriors a 19-point lead at the end of the third.

Los Angeles’ defense was able to keep Curry relatively quiet with just 12 points, but the Warriors answered with tougher defense holding the Clippers to just 98 points. The Warriors are now 31-0 when allowing the opposition to score fewer than 100 points.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said the teams defense, particularly in the second half, was great at keeping the Clippers off the three-point line and forcing them to make mistakes:

“Defense was pretty good for the most part, we were a step slow in the first half and let Redick get free a couple times, but for the most part the defense was good. The Clippers execute very well …  They’re hard to guard.”

There’s never any love lost between the Clippers and Warriors, and the tempers flared between Livingston and Austin Rivers with 9:54 remaining in the game when words exchanged landed both players offsetting technical fouls.

The Clippers were able to then put together a small comeback in the final stanza, cutting Golden State’s lead to eight points thanks to late bucket from Austin Rivers.

But the Warriors lead was enough for the second unit to withstand the effort with contributions from Livingston and Leandro Barbosa while the majority of the starters rested to close the game.

The Warriors, now 49-12, play the second game of a back-to-back Monday in Phoenix before returning home to face the Detroit Pistons Wednesday.

The most rousing altercation between the two teams came after the game, when Dahntay Jones bumped into Draymond Green while Green was giving an on-court post game interview for ESPN on ABC.

When Green was asked what his reaction was to the incident he made sure to send the message that he was the better man, on and off the court. Here is his reaction in full:

“It kind of caught be by surprise. So I looked, then I looked again, curious if he did it on purpose or not. Then I see the replay of it and he looks at me, stops talking then look at me again out the corner of his eye then walk right into me. I think he wanted a reaction from me, but he don’t play. So, me getting suspended and him getting suspended, its different when you don’t play. That’s probably his role on the team and I’ve had that role once before in my career, a couple years ago. But I can’t afford to feed into that and get into to it with him after the game and get fined or suspended and hurt my team. Where if he gets suspended they may not even notice.”

Green added:

“I guess, good bump by him. But I definitely expect for it to be reviewed by the NBA, for him to look at me and look at me again then bump me when I’m doing a post-game interview. That’s really smart too, when its on ABC and obviously the post-game interview is the highlight of that segment and you bump somebody. He got some camera time and he needs it because there wasn’t much celebration from their bench today so you didn’t see him much. He got the camera time he was looking for. I just expect it to be reviewed and see what happens. He served his purpose in today’s game.”

ESPN reporter Arash Markazi spoke with Jones and posted his response on Twitter:

Notes

The Warriors, who posted 51 victories last season, have won 49 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history. … Golden State’s starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut improved to 38-5 this season. … Shaun Livingston scored a season-high 21 points — his 10th career 20-point game — to go with eight rebounds three assists and three steals. … Draymond Green recorded his eighth 20-point game of the season (ninth career) with 23 points to go with six assists and three rebounds. … Klay Thompson scored 21 points with 3-of-5 from distance, passing his head coach Steve Kerr (726) on the NBA’s all-time threes list, now with 728 career triples.


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