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T.J. Simers

Clippers lay another sizable egg

L.A. gets pushed around by Golden State, their second consecutive subpar effort. "We are just terrible," Chris Paul says.

January 02, 2013|T.J. Simers
  • Clippers' Blake Griffin (32) argues a call against the Golden State Warriors.
Clippers' Blake Griffin (32) argues a call against the Golden State… (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

OAKLAND — Double yikes.

A Times columnist suggests the Lakers might have been looking past Philadelphia to a date with the Clippers in explaining the loss to the 76ers the other night.

And now here we are in Oracle Arena for a "Warriors WhiteOut," everyone in the place given a white T-shirt and placard like this is going to be some kind of playoff game with the Clippers.

The Clippers!

It makes sense. Why waste such emotion on the Lakers?

"It's big. Big," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro says with more than a hint of sarcasm. "It's Jan. 2, I believe. But that's good."

So was Del Negro going to advise his players they were in for a big game?

"No, I probably won't bring it up," Del Negro says. "They would laugh at that."

Who is laughing now?

The Warriors ran out to a 26-8 lead, 82-64 after three quarters and a TV blackout back home might be the only thing to save the Clippers' dignity.

"We are just terrible; we just didn't match their intensity," Chris Paul says. "They hit us in the mouth and we reacted instead of being the aggressor."

It was obvious the young Warriors were here to make a statement, and the Clippers were more than willing to oblige them.

Golden State's Richard Jefferson was credited in the morning newspaper here as saying, "This situation doesn't come along often in this league, where a team that is red hot and a team that's rolling collide.

"You've got to embrace it, capitalize on it and be ready."

The Warriors called it the "Golden State Showdown," the first of three remaining games with the Clippers as if these were the Yankees taking on the Red Sox.

The Clippers, meanwhile, played it like they did against Denver and folded.

They opted not to play defense, Del Negro warning them earlier in the day that's how they have achieved their success and they might want to employ some against the Warriors.

"But it wasn't there," Del Negro says when the Warriors go on to score 115 points and win by 21.

It's understood the Clippers built a 17-game winning streak by taking advantage of a soft schedule, but how about a little sign of life when matched against teams that think they are playing one of the better teams in the league?

Over the decades most teams have saved their best shot for the arriving Lakers. It's what happens with good teams.

But what about the Clippers, everyone now focusing on their recent success?

How will they fare under such scrutiny?

Not so well based on a Tuesday night dive in Denver, and worrisome now two games in a row where they have been outmatched in intensity.

"It's frustrating," Del Negro says after his team has run for the exits two nights in a row. "I thought we would have given a better overall effort."

It appeared as if the Clippers were surprised to find their opponent so intent on winning.

"I think there's something to that," Del Negro says. "We've got to understand what's going to happen when we go into someone else's building and it's a division rival. They were just sitting here waiting for us and we have to understand we have that target now on us."

The Clippers were not ambushed, but humbled in the process, the Warriors' David Lee and Stephen Curry dominating their Clippers counterparts in Blake Griffin and Paul.

Curry opened the first half with 25 points to put the Clippers on their heels, and Lee went physical on Griffin and scored 24, while Griffin managed 10.

That's three off games in a row for Griffin, who has averaged a little more than nine points per game.

"It wasn't just Blake," Del Negro says. "He had a lot of company. We got killed on the glass and we couldn't score."

Tough to win when you can't get the ball, and when you do, you can't put it in the basket.

Paul continued to battle, though, and while he appeared to lose his composure at times, he scored 23 points. Jamal Crawford chipped in 23, but Caron Butler sat out the game for personal reasons and no one else was up for WhiteOut challenge.

Willie Green is three for 19 as a starter the last two games. And there's no indication Chauncey Billups is going to be healthy any time soon.

The Warriors won each of the four quarters, the Clippers never finding a way to keep pace, which has to be a concern for both the Clippers and the Lakers.

Both the Clippers and Warriors figure to finish ahead of the Lakers, leaving six playoff spots open for the old-timers.

On a very upbeat note, though, I'm happy to report that someone has to win Friday night when the Lakers and Clippers play.

The bad news for the Clippers, should they lose and it will undoubtedly be an emotional game, they will play again the next night against the Warriors.

Billed as a big week for the Clippers, they might end up wishing they could white it out and start all over again.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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