The Los Angeles Clippers were able to fend off a furious late rally from the Golden State Warriors for a crucial Game 3 victory for a final score of 98-96. The Clippers now lead the series 2-1 and have regained control of home court advantage. In what was a hard fought game by both teams, Blake Griffin and the Clippers were just too much for the Warriors to handle.
Griffin played stretches of unstoppable basketball, scoring 32 points on 15-for-25 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds. But it was his timely buckets that picked the Clippers up when they needed it most that simply stifled the Warriors. Every time the Warriors would close in, Griffin was there to answer, particularly late in the fourth quarter when he hit a baseline jumper in the crowding Draymond Green’s face as the shot clock expired, killing another Golden State run.
Chris Paul was also tremendous down the stretch. Relatively quiet until late in the game, he finished with 15 points, 10 assists and ultimately the final stop of the game to hold onto a two-point win. Down two, the Warriors had a chance to tie or win the game with under 10 seconds remaining. Stephen Curry chose to go for the win, stepping back for a deep three-pointer that fell short. Paul was standing in the way, defending him so closely that it was a questionable non-call by the officials.
Foul or not, Curry’s late fury of miraculous triples wasn’t enough to overcome his measly 16-point total. While Curry did have 15 assists, the time has come for him to realize that he is now a superstar and must put the game into his own hands. He needs to become selfish. He has the skill set of a superstar, now he needs to act the part of one.
Klay Thompson was the Warriors’ high scorer with 27 points, but was just 2-for-11 from beyond the arc. Golden State couldn’t get it going from downtown, shooting 6-for-31. You live by the three, you die by the three.
With the Clippers jumping out to as much as an 18-point lead in the third quarter, the game looked all but out of reach. The combination of Blake Griffin’s scoring and DeAndre Jordan’s franchise-tying playoff record 22 rebounds, Golden State seemed to have no answer. But Draymond Green’s physical play, including a flagrant 1 foul on Griffin, sparked both his team and the Oracle Arena to a comeback. With his Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in the crowd, Green had 13 points, 11 boards and three steals off the bench and carried them back to within a single point with just minutes remaining.
But Jamal Crawford had 13 points of his own off of the Clippers bench, including three timely triples. The trio of Paul, Griffin and Crawford always had a response to kill any Golden State run before they were able to take the lead. That was the ultimate difference in Game 3.
Looking ahead to Game 4, Golden State will need to get Curry and Thompson going early and often if they want to keep this series alive. Doc Rivers now knows that Blake Griffin is unstoppable and will continue to pound him in the low post until the Warriors can prove otherwise, which they can’t. So if the Warriors can’t stop him, they’ll just have to outscore him. Maybe it’s time for Mark Jackson to roll the dice and go complete “Nellie Ball,” as he did late in Game 2. At this point, it’s time to try anything and everything. After all, Jackson may be coaching for his job.