All-star forward Blake Griffin was in foul trouble early playing just 19 minutes fouling out late in the 4th and the Clippers turned the ball over 17 times – three in the crucial last two minutes of the game – enabling the 6th seeded Golden State Warriors to steal game one of their NBA best-of-7 western conference first round playoff series at Staples Center, 109-105.
After rallying from a ten-point deficit in the 4th quarter, Clippers guard Chris Paul drained three of his game-high 28 points tying the score at 102 and then took their first lead since late in the 3rd quarter when Darren Collison hit one of two free throws for a 103-102 lead with 2:19 left in the game.
On the next possession – a three-on-one break – instead of passing the ball to one of his two trailers, Paul went in and missed a lay-up resulting in a Harrison Barnes trey at the other end giving Golden State a 105-103 lead.
“I’ve got to take care of the ball. That was the biggest play of the game” said Paul. “I should’ve passed it either to J.J. (Redick) or Collison who were running with me. We could’ve went up three. Instead we were down two.”
Later, tied at 105, Paul stole the ball from Klay Thompson tossing it out front to Darren Collison who drove to the basket before getting a handle on the ball losing it out of bounds. That resulted in a foul at the other end with Draymond Green hitting one of two free throws giving the Warriors a 106-105 lead.
Finally, trailing by three with less than a minute, Paul attempts to drive to the hoop around Green and loses the ball out of bounds.
Game, set and match after the uncharacteristic finish by the Clippers.
“We could’ve won this game.” Paul said.
Blake Griffin - who had just four points in the first half forced to sit on the bench most of it with three quick fouls and fouled out late in the 4th – was frustrated by his lack of contribution and the teams overall errors down the stretch.
“Just a bunch of small mistakes that are big mistakes towards the end” Griffin said to the media. “Those are the times we’ve really closed out games.”
The Warriors weren’t anything special either. Golden State managed to win despite 23 turnovers resulting in 17 Clippers points and overcoming a 12-1 deficit halfway through quarter number one.
“We’re not going to quit” is how Warriors head coach Mark Jackson explained the game one win.
Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 22 points. David Lee added 20 to go along with 13 rebounds. Stephen Curry had a tough afternoon going 6-of-16 from the field for just 14 points.
The Clippers were the Association’s top three-point defending team. They allowed Golden State to go 11 of 27 from the arc.
J.J Redick had 22 for the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan was stellar with 11 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots.
The L.A. bench was less than complimentary with Jamal Crawford, Danny Granger and Collison combining for just 20 points on 5-of-26 from the field.
To hear from Clippers head coach Doc Rivers as well as players from both teams, click on the video.
Game two is set for Monday night back at Staple Center. Tip-off is set for 7:30.