L.A.’s “Big 3” of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan were huge Thursday night as the Clippers regained home-court advantage and a two-one series lead beating the Golden State Warriors in game three of their first-round playoff series, 98-96.
Los Angeles led throughout the game opening its largest lead at 18 points in the third quarter.
The Warriors made a furious rally in the 4th and had the game to tie or win in their hands. Stephen Curry tossed up a shot with about four seconds left from the 3-point arc but was defended well enough by Chris Paul to alter the shot and DeAndre Jordan grabbed one of his franchise-record 22 rebounds in the game running out the clock.
“A 50-50 call,” said Curry about that last shot. “I thought It should go my way (a foul call on Paul). Obviously it didn’t. Nothing I can do about it now. Definitely a frustrating way for the game to end.”
“It’s all our defense.” Said DeAndre Jordan who also had 15 points and owned the paint with his rebounds and his five blocked shots. “We do a great job initially guarding the ball on their first possession. We have to do an even better job of securing the rebounds and limiting them to one possession.”
“I can’t wait to watch the film because every time I see one of those three-pointers go up in the air it’s like dagger for me.” Said relieved Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. “That’s the line I want to defend and they got loose on a couple of them.”
The Clippers were again successful in holding Golden State’s “Splash Brothers” – starting guards Curry and Klay Thompson – to just 5-for-19 from their bread and butter, the three point line.
L.A. held the entire Warriors team to 6-for-31 from the arc. Just19%.
“We had great looks. Open shots and just missed them.” That’s what Thompson said about his and Curry’s efforts from behind the arc. “I mean 6-for-31. We’ll probably make half of those on Sunday (game 4). It’s frustrating.”
Thompson – who finished with 26 points on 12-of-33 from the field- was especially frustrated with an attempt with about 6:12 left in the fourth that would’ve tied the game at 88. Instead it was a miss David Lee tipped in for two of his 12 points getting the Warriors to within one at 88-87.
As close as it would get.
“It felt great. Started to back-pedal. It goes off the back rim. That one hurt.” Said Thompson.
“Unfortunately we did a poor job in the second half. The promising part is we played well and made stops and shots when we needed to.” Said Blake Griffin who finished with 32 points. “But we can’t let them back in the game like that.”
Another key possession early in the fourth came on a steal that had the Warriors on a two-on-one break with the Clippers defender being Chris Paul – who played the game with a fever and an injured hamstring. Paul broke up the play that led to a Glen “Big Baby” Davis bucket at the other end. A four-point swing with the Clippers final margin of victory being two points.
“I told the guys in the locker room I sort of feel like (Memphis Grizzlies defensive specialist) Tony Allen. I try to be the defensive stopper.” Said Paul whose 15 points and 10 assists didn’t matter to him as much as his defense did. “Going into the games, that’s my focus. It’s not about how many shots I can get up or how any points I’m going to score. It’s all about defense and trying to make things tough and slow them down.”
Two days of rest for Paul and his teammates who can take a series strangle-hold with a win Sunday back at Oracle Arena.