Clippers crush Warriors when it matters least

In nearly every sense, Tuesday night was just another Warriors-Clippers affair: No shortage of technical fouls, chippy play, and a lively crowd.

Except it was just the preseason, and the Warriors were playing without Stephen Curry (rest), Andre Iguodala (rest), and Andrew Bogut (broken nose).

This story has been updated from quotes and additional material from the Warriors locker room at Staples Center.

Thus, a 130-95 blowout by the Clippers was no surprise, and neither were the eight technical fouls. Any game between these two teams – no matter how unimportant –  could not be complete without flaring tempers.

In the third quarter, Draymond Green and Lance Stephenson – each team’s most volatile players – were given double technicals. Shortly afterward, Chris Paul was ejected after receiving two technical fouls in a matter of seconds for talking back to the referee. Paul could be overheard saying:

“I’ve got two kids of my own, don’t talk to me like a little kid.”

Josh Smith earned his technical by appearing to exchange words with the Warriors’ bench. That came before Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton picked up a technical for pestering the referees in the second quarter.

Walton joked about the technical after the game:

“I’ve said more as a player. I’m just trying to find where that line is. That’s just one sample size. I’ve got to get a bigger sample size. I’ll try a couple more times, see what I can get away with.”

Green, when asked about the chippy play afterward, cast it aside as:

“Nothing.”

Klay Thompson was the only Warriors’ player who had much of an offensive night, playing 27 minutes and recording 21 points, 15 in the third quarter. After one basket followed by a Clippers timeout, Thompson pointed to the Clippers’ bench, a sign of the competitive edge, despite being a preseason game.

Other than Thompson, there wasn’t much to like about the Warriors’ performance. They committed 23 turnovers, missed 17 free throws, and allowed the Clippers to run all over them from beginning to end.

Festus Ezeli, who went 1-for-4 from the line himself, noted the foul shooting was “terrible,” and that “it was a total lack of focus today.”

Ezeli added:

“Next game is going to be big. We’re going to have to treat next game like a real game, come out and definitely wipe this off our memories.”

Green remarked:

“I don’t think there’s deep concern. If you lose by 35, it ain’t just ok, though. We’ve got to bring it on Thursday and get ready for [the season opener].”

Shaun Livingston, who started in place of Curry, had a strong performance with 10 points. But the remaining starters – Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, and Festus Ezeli – struggled to make an impact.

The Warriors couldn’t really contain Blake Griffin in his 25 minutes of playing time. Griffin had 18 points in the first quarter alone, having his way with Green and James Michael McAdoo. Griffin finished with 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, hitting on an array of jump shots, post moves, and finishes at the rim.

Six Clippers finished in double-digits, with Los Angeles reaching the century mark at the end of the third quarter.

While it was obvious the Warriors would much rather be playing meaningful regular season games, Walton doesn’t see that as an excuse:

“I know we have guys that are ready for this thing to get started, but at the same time we can’t give up 67 points in the first half and 31 in the first quarter.”

Walton readily admitted the priority was keeping everybody healthy, hence the rest for Curry and Iguodala:

“It’s tough to really find a rhythm and flow. We’re substituting more and [focused on] keeping people fresh than trying to win the ball game.”

Ian Clark and Chris Babb – two roster invites competing for the final roster spot – received plenty of run late in the game. Clark, who seems to be the favorite with one preseason game remaining, finished with 11 points, while Babb had 3.

The Warriors’ final preseason game will be Thursday in Anaheim against the Lakers as they seek to head into the season opener next Tuesday on a strong note. But it won’t be easy, with every opponent gearing up an extra level for the defending champions.

Said Ezeli:

“That’s the territory of being champions. It’s bittersweet. You’ve got a big bulls-eye on your back and everybody’s coming for you.”