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Clippers withstand Stephen Curry, Warriors to earn impressive win

Clippers withstand Stephen Curry Warriors to earn impressive win


They had seen this movie before, twice in the last four days, in fact, an experience that led the Clippers to know the kind of superhero performance they were watching would end in one of just two genres: horror or survival.

Like Luka Doncic’s 51- and 45-point nights against the Clippers in Dallas last week, Golden State’s Stephen Curry looked like a video game with the difficulty set on low while making his first six shots and scoring 16 points in Monday night’s opening 10 minutes at Crypto.com Arena.

“It was almost like a flashback to that other night with Luka,” guard Terance Mann said.

Yet the Clippers left Dallas with a victory and a reminder that they could weather such a storm, that one line in a box score wouldn’t necessarily dictate the entire plot.

By the end Monday, after Mann pushed nonstop, Robert Covington got his hands on seemingly every Warriors pass in the fourth quarter and Isaiah Hartenstein’s one-handed reception and dunk off an alley-oop from Reggie Jackson even drew applause from a courtside-seated Antonio Brown, this Clippers game had transformed into something entirely unexpected during those opening minutes — a 119-104 laugher.

With Norman Powell’s fractured foot bone in a walking boot and Luke Kennard’s injured ankle keeping him sidelined as well, the Clippers ripped through the roster owning the NBA’s second-best record through their overwhelming response to Curry’s early challenge.

It was their second consecutive victory and a tone-setting performance on the first night of one of the most difficult back-to-backs of the entire NBA schedule, with a meeting with the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns on Tuesday on the road.

“Tonight was one of our most complete games of the season on both sides of the ball, even with Steph getting off to that hot start,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We [were] able to adjust and do a better job.”

The Clippers (29-30) outscored Golden State (42-16) by 18 points after the first quarter to win so comfortably that new Clipper Semi Ojeleye even was afforded playing time in the end in a victory that was more lopsided than the final margin indicated.

The two-man show that makes Golden State’s offense so difficult to guard compared with Dallas’ — the presence of Klay Thompson that forces defenses to stay honest — never materialized. Curry finished with 33 points, but only two baskets came in the second half, which included an 11-minute span in which he didn’t make a field goal. And Thompson made just three of his 14 field-goal attempts and scored seven points.

“We weathered the storm early,” said Mann, who downplayed concern about an elbow he hurt while scoring 25 points, his second consecutive game with at least 20 after not scoring that many at any point in the season’s previous 57 games.

It was the latest encouraging performance from Mann, whose consistency had suffered throughout the first five months of the season by decision-making that was hit or miss. Jackson said the third-year wing had been thinking too much at times. But even with Mann playing in a role that has required more ballhandling than usual since the Clippers dealt Eric Bledsoe, Mann’s play has turned a corner — often right toward the rim. His pressure on the paint has opened the court for himself and others, with Jackson praising Mann’s “instinctual” play.

Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who scored 26 of his 33 points in the first half, reacts after making a basket in the second half against the Clippers.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

“He’s really instilling confidence in us to have confidence in him,” Jackson said.

All five Clippers starters scored in double figures, the first time they have done that since Jan. 21, and four starters had seven or more rebounds. Jackson scored 19 points, and Ivica Zubac added 18 points and eight rebounds.

The Warriors trailed by five points even after Curry’s first-quarter shift ended, but when the Clippers’ own exceptionally hot scoring went cold after reserves generated just three points after Curry took a seat, the Clippers trailed by three entering the second quarter, an ominous start when the Clippers figured to need to win the non-Curry minutes to win, period.

But Curry was on the floor as the Clippers scored 13 unanswered points late in the second quarter, watching as Mann’s flying chase-down block of a Jonathan Kuminga layup attempt extended Golden State’s scoreless streak to more than three minutes before Mann dropped in a one-handed floater himself. The Warriors ultimately went nearly five minutes without points, creating a two-point Clippers halftime lead, and at halftime, Marcus Morris Sr. joined coaches imploring the Clippers to involve Thompson and Curry in as many defensive actions as possible in the third quarter to wear them down.

The Clippers won the quarter by 14, then pushed their lead to as many as 25 by nullifying a Warriors offense that still made nearly 40% of its three-point tries.

“I’m happy we won, but that’s the best shooter in the world, hands down,” Jackson said of Curry.

Covington had a deflection “almost every possession,” Lue said. “He’s one of those guys who takes defense personal.” Covington arrived to the Clippers as the other piece of the trade that landed Powell — but it was the long-armed wing who played such an enormous role with 11 points and two steals.

The Clippers made 56% of their field-goal attempts and 44% of their three-point tries. In the end, for Golden State, this was a rerun.

“The main thing is our defense has been bad,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who lamented before tipoff the importance of getting Draymond Green back in the lineup from an injury that has sidelined him for more than a month. “It’s been bad for six or seven games now.”

UP NEXT AT PHOENIX

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m. PST

On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 570, 1330.

Update: The Suns (46-10) have won five in a row and are 9-1 in their last 10 games.





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