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Clippers blow big lead, lose to Steph Curry, Warriors



Tyronn Lue had his reservations about the Clippers’ back-to-back in the Bay: “You’re playing a team like Golden State with the championship DNA that they have and the coaching that they have over there … it’s gonna be tough ’cause they’re gonna make adjustments.”

It was the Warriors’ in-game adjustment that bit the Clippers on Friday night.

Golden State outscored its guests by 32 points over the final 15:15 of the game, handing Lue’s team a 115-105 defeat and a disappointing split in their two-game series in San Francisco, part of the condensed schedule reflecting the logistical part of the NBA’s extensive coronavirus protocols. The Clippers won at Chase Center on Wednesday, 108-101.

And on Friday, they were in control, cruising with an 85-63 advantage when they took their foot off the gas, the Warriors put the pedal to the metal and, once again, the wheels fell off.

The Warriors (5-4) used an 18-2 flurry to close the third quarter and picked right up where that ended in the fourth. Kent Bazemore tied it at 87-87 with 10:49 to play and Eric Paschall’s 3-pointer with 10:01 left made it 92-89, the Warriors’ first lead since they were ahead 3-2.

“I think our guys just hung in there,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We were down through most of the first three quarters, but they kept their energy up and they kept their spirit up. They were pumping each other up on the sidelines. It just felt like we were on the ropes, but we hung in.

“I’ve been telling you guys how much I love coaching this team and coming to practice every day because every guy is all in and is fun to be around and totally committing to what we are trying to do.”

Conversely, the Clippers appeared out of sync and confounded. No one has forgotten last postseason, when they coughed up large leads in three consecutive losses, resulting in their blowing a 3-1 series advantage against the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Four times already this season, L.A. has relinquished double-digit advantages.

In the three other games so far under Lue – against the Lakers, Denver and Phoenix – the Clippers gave up double-dig advantages but still managed to pull out a win.

Not so against Steph Curry and Co.

After scoring a season-low 13 points on Wednesday, the Warriors’ solo-going Splash Bro. finished with 38 points and 11 assists on Friday – when he scored 19 in the third quarter to ignite his side.

“I mean you got a guy that’s hot like that, it takes a lot of pressure off for everybody at that point,” George said. “Guys play harder. They got a guy who at any point can get hot and is an obvious offensive threat from anywhere on the court.

“It just fuels the whole team, they want to make extra plays, they want to keep their guy hot, keep the ball in his hands. And then it just gets to a point where they get comfortable, they get confident, the basket is just big for them. So I think that is what happened tonight.”

Meanwhile, the Clippers unraveled.

They committed 11 turnovers in the final 15 minutes, scored only 20 more points, were outrebounded 15-7 and watched as the Warriors went 10 for 17 from the 3-point arc.

“We got to be better. All of us included,” said the Clippers’ Paul George, who scored only eight of his team-high 25 points in the second half, including just two in the fourth quarter. “This was a team loss.

“I think,” he added, this is good that something like this happened for this team so early. Because the fact of the matter is, we have to be a better closing-out team.”

Said Leonard: “We just gotta come in and be able to execute. If the other team is scoring that easy, you’ve got to come down and get into something on the offensive end.

“We just have to change, pretty much. We’ve got to change it. We’ve got to get better.”

Lue credited the Warriors for switching effectively down the stretch when Draymond Green was playing center, an effort that served to stagnate the Clippers’ offense – which in the first half produced 65 points on 58.7 percent (27 for 46) shooting but which shot just 35.1 percent (13 for 37) in the final 24 minutes.

“That’s on me,” Lue said. “We will be better with that, but we just gotta keep running and keep playing through the game the way we have been even if they do switch, so we just gotta get better with that.”

Though he cooled off down the stretch, George shot 9 for 13 and went 5 for 7 from 3-point range, his attempts increasing in difficulty as if he were engaged in his own game of H.O.R.S.E. within the game. He also had a team-high seven assists.

“We could’ve done a better job of trying to get him free and opening him up for some more shots,” Lue said. “I thought he did a great job of just making the right play, the right pass. He’s in a great rhythm right now, so we gotta ride this wave while we can.”

They will get back on the board on Sunday at 1 p.m., when they return to Staples Center to face the Chicago Bulls.

Source: Orange County Register

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