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Clippers falter at the finish and drop Game 1 to Warriors, 109-105

April 19, 2014|Times staff reports
  • Clippers power forward Blake Griffin slams the ball past Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal in the second half Saturday afternoon during Game 1 at Staples Center.
Clippers power forward Blake Griffin slams the ball past Warriors center… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

If there was any doubt that the first-round NBA playoff series between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors would be worthy of a daytime national television spot it was erased Saturday at Staples Center.

The game didn’t go down to the last shot but the last minute, with the Warriors taking a 109-105 victory over the Clippers and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Clippers have dug themselves a big hole by losing the opener in front of 19,339 fans at Staples Center, where Game 2 will be played Monday night at 7:30.

It wasn’t as if the Clippers didn’t have chances at the end but some uncharacteristic play by Chris Paul -- a lost ball and two missed free throws inside 20 seconds -- kept the Warriors in front.

Paul was the game’s leading scorer with 28 points on 10-of-23 shooting.

PHOTOS: Clippers vs. Warriors Game 1

The Warriors had five players in double figures: Klay Thompson (22 points), David Lee (20), Stephen Curry (14), Harrison Barnes (14) and Jermaine O’Neal (13).

The Clippers did get some strong play from J.J. Redick with 22 points. DeAndre Jordan had 14 rebounds and 11 points. And Glen (Big Baby) Davis had an inspired 21 minutes of play. He only scored six points but showed an energy that lifted both the crowd and his team.

One player that has to turn it around for the Clippers is Jamal Crawford. Despite making a half-court basket at the buzzer to end the first quarter, the normally reliable Crawford made only 2 of 11 shots.

The Warriors seemingly had the game in hand -- if such a thing is possible in the NBA -- with an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Blake Griffin missed most of the first half in foul trouble and then was relegated to the bench for half of the fourth quarter after picking up his fifth foul. Griffin finished the game with 16 points, playing only 19:14.

After Griffin’s return the Clippers made a run, erasing a six-point deficit and tying the score at 102-102 with 2:26 to play after a basket by Paul. The Clippers then took a brief lead when Darren Collison made one of two free throws with 2:10 to play.

But Harrison Barnes made a three-pointer with 1:40 to play and a two-point Warriors lead. Griffin then tied the score with a couple free throws with 1:31 to play. Neither team could score on their next possession and Griffin picked up his sixth foul with 48.3 seconds to play and the score tied, 105-105.

The Clippers missed an opportunity after a steal when Collison couldn’t handle the breakaway and the Warriors took the lead with 24 seconds to play after Collison fouled Draymond Green and he converted both foul shots.

On the Clippers' next possession, Paul lost the ball in traffic near the sideline. The call originally favored the Clippers but was overturned after replay. Harrison Barnes was then intentionally fouled by Matt Barnes and converted the second of two free throws to give the Warriors a three-point lead with 13.9 seconds left.

Thompson intentionally fouled Paul, who missed both free throws. Paul followed that with his fifth foul and the Clippers were done.

--John Cherwa

Warriors 87, Clippers 79 (end of third quarter)

Well, you couldn’t say Blake Griffin wasn’t well rested for the second half. He played only 3:53 of the first half because of foul trouble and came out strong in the third quarter, scoring the first six points for the Clippers. But Griffin had to return to the bench with 58 seconds left in the quarter when he picked up his fifth foul.

The Warriors put on quite the offensive display, finishing the quarter with an 8-0 run that leaves the Clippers in quite a hole.

It was up to J.J. Redick to carry the team in the third, scoring 12 of his 22 points in the quarter.

Fouls could be an issue in the fourth quarter. Warriors forward Andre Iguodala picked up his fifth foul early in the third quarter and Chris Paul was whistled for his fourth with 5:10 left. At that point Paul had 18 points and eight assists. Both Iguodala's and Paul’s fouls were offensive, giving coaches Mark Jackson and Doc Rivers equal opportunities to complain to referees.

The Warriors opened up a four-point lead, 77-73, with 4:38 to play on back-to-back baskets by Jermaine O’Neal and David Lee. But the Clippers weren’t about to let the game get away from them as Darren Collison sank two free throws to close the gap.

But the Warriors came back with a Klay Thompson layup and the lead was back to four with three minutes to play in the quarter. Griffin answered with a basket and Redick scored uncontested to tie the score again, 79-79, with 2:16 left in the quarter.

And then the wheels started to come off the Clippers. The Warriors went on an 8-0 run to end the quarter. Lee sank four free throws while Thompson and O’Neal scored baskets to give the Warriors the big edge.

--John Cherwa

Clippers 52, Warriors 52 (halftime)

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