[…] unlike years past, the Warriors have yet to respond to several straight games of sloppiness by locking in and annihilating an opponent. Golden State’s got a golden opportunity to do just that on Monday, taking on a Los Angeles Clippers team that has become one of its favorite punching bags over the last few seasons, and that has started its first post-Chris Paul season better than expected thanks to excellent play from All-Star power forward Blake Griffin. Maybe the Dubs tighten up and paste the Clips, reminding Doc Rivers and company of the pecking order in the West and putting us all on notice that a season-opening fortnight of playtime is over.
So, about that:
The Warriors, as is their wont, absolutely annihilated the Clippers on Monday night, pulling away midway through the second quarter and cruising to a 141-113 victory. The Clips entered the day ranked No. 1 in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing a microscopic 92.8 points per 100 possessions in their 4-1 start to the season. Golden State set a new high-water mark in scoring for the young NBA season — at Staples Center — with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all logging just under 30 minutes of floor time.
After turning the ball over 26 times in Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Pistons, and at least 16 times in all seven of their games entering Monday, the Warriors clearly made a more concerted effort to take care of the ball from the jump. They coughed it up only four times in the first two quarters, and just 12 times overall, against a whopping 37 assists on 52 made field goals. And with the Clips unable to run off Warriors miscues, or to impose their will physically inside and on the glass — Golden State finished with a 46-35 rebounding advantage, and a 64-40 edge in points in the paint — Blake Griffin and company were basically just drawing dead.
They performed well enough offensively — 45.3 percent from the field as a team, 10-for-25 from 3-point land, 25-for-30 from the foul line. The Clips scored an average of 107.4 points per 100 possessions on Monday, according to NBA.com’s stat tool — a very strong rate, a top-five-offense-in-the-NBA-caliber mark, the kind of outing that would be potent enough to pulverize most other opponents.
Golden State scored an average of 140.7 points-per-100.
This, ultimately, is what the Warriors can do when they don’t beat themselves — produce the kind of incinerating, nightmarish performance that reduces everything in its path to cinders, and renders anything else moot.
The Warriors shot 58.4 percent as a team, 14-for-29 from deep, and 23-for-30 at the stripe. They did not trail again after Shaun Livingston hit a short hook with 3:16 to go in the first quarter. After a bench-heavy unit let the Clips hang around until the midpoint of the second quarter, head coach Steve Kerr subbed Curry and Durant back in. They promptly went on a 15-5 run to push the lead to 61-43 with just under three minutes to go in the first half, and headed into intermission having hung a cool 74 on the NBA’s top defense.
To their credit, the Clippers kept pounding away. They took advantage of some brief Warrior turnover troubles coming out of half, cutting the lead down to single digits again with seven minutes to go in the third on a 3-pointer by forward Danilo Gallinari and a dunk by All-Star center DeAndre Jordan. Even that, though, felt like just delaying the inevitable. Back-to-back 3s by Curry and Durant quickly pushed the lead back up to 15:
And when the Clips answered, getting back within nine on a 3-pointer by Lou Williams with 4:15 to go in the frame, the Warriors just re-raised and went on one of their now-signature “say goodnight” runs. A Curry 3. A pair of alley-oops from Draymond Green to JaVale McGee. Another Curry 3. A Livingston dunk off a drop-off feed from Curry. Before you know it, you’re down 20, left woozy and wondering what hit you.
And then, it hits you.
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) October 31, 2017
Curry’s shake-and-bake, step-to-the-right, rise-and-fire buzzer-beating 3 jammed a dagger into the heart of any would-be Clipper comeback attempts, sending Golden State into the fourth up 21. His work done, Curry sat out the entire fourth quarter, finishing with 31 points on 9-for-14 shooting, a 7-for-11 mark from 3-point range and 6-for-8 from the free-throw line to go with six assists, five rebounds, two steals, one block and just one turnover in 30 minutes of work. He was one of five Warriors to score in double figures; every Warrior who suited up scored.
The fourth quarter became an exercise in seeing whether rim-rocking rookie Jordan Bell would set his sights on damaging another rim …
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) October 31, 2017
… and in which Warrior would become the next to surprise-launch a 3 …
Nick Young logo 3 miss, Bell enormous putback, David West 3… so I see the game has reached the conceptual art stage.
— Eric Apricot (@EricApricot) October 31, 2017
… and whether Nick Young and JaVale Mcgee would do something memorable, for better or for worse:
I know what youre thinking…
What if the Warriors were to run their offense through Swaggy P & JaVale only?
THE RESULT ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/zFc6IgbzlA
— #JaValeAfterDark (@World_Wide_Wob) October 31, 2017
And the Clippers … well, they just had to sit there and take it. Again.
The Staples Center crowd gives Steph Curry MVP chants while he’s at the free throw line. pic.twitter.com/E2B5p9mNXB
— Warriors Talk (@JaeAzizi) October 31, 2017
The Warriors have now beaten the Clippers 11 straight times. They haven’t lost to L.A. since Christmas Day of 2014. They have scored at least 110 points in 10 of those 11 games; at least 120 in five of them; and at least 140 in two of them. They’ve now beaten the Clips by double figures the last six times they’ve met.
The Warriors seem to take special pleasure in torturing the Clippers, ratcheting up their focus and brandishing their full arsenal for an opponent for whom familiarity has bred contempt. That was just what the doctor ordered for a Golden State side that hadn’t really locked in yet this season.
Nothing better to get the Warriors right again than a game against the Clippers.
— Brian Mahoney (@briancmahoney) October 31, 2017
The scary thought that the rest of the league will be turning over this Halloween: what if Monday night’s massacre was just the Warriors getting started?
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