HIGHLIGHTS -- Clippers 115, Warriors 89
Despite the loss the Warriors are 22-11 and currenlty sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
After blowing out the Clippers 115-94 on Wednesday, the Warriors got a taste of their own medicine Saturday night at Staples...
David Lee C+
I didn’t think a 29 minute line of 10 points and five rebounds from David Lee was possible. Yet, the box score “don’t” lie. I had a really bad feeling when he missed a wide open 18 footer midway through the first quarter. That’s usually automatic for him. Overall, he was 0-4 in the first quarter, contributing to the Warriors' 23-point deficit after the first 12 minutes.
The David Lee we’re used to seeing came back in the second quarter when he scored 10 points on some his vintage twisting drives to the bucket. Defensively, he wasn’t responsible for Blake Griffin’s 20 point night—he barely guarded Griffin at all. However, Lee’s help defense did leave Lamar Odom wide open once for a jumper and once for a layup.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Clippers exact revenge on Warriors]
He only shot 4-for-11. His 0-for-5 shooting performance in the first quarter contributed the Warriors' huge first quarter deficit. He, understandably, seemed to press as the deficit got well over 20. That led to forced shots and a really bad pass for Biedrins on a pick-and-roll that resulted in a turnover. Defensively, he seemed content to wait inside the 3-point arc for Chris Paul to dribble to him rather than go out to challenge him. Paul made him pay a few times with quick decisions and pinpoint passes. This was just Paul’s night, and Curry had no answer.
His 1-for-4 first quarter contributed to the Warriors' disastrous 12-point first quarter. With that said, his 3-point shot did start to fall later, and he did a number of nice things besides shooting from beyond the arc. He had a nice blocked shot to keep the Clips from turning a bad Curry pass into two points. He also made a great entry pass to Lee in the second quarter, but Lee got his shot blocked. And, just before halftime, he passed up an open 3, opting instead for a pass to Harrison Barnes for a layup. On the downside, he made the bad choice of leaving Caron Butler wide open to go and help Jarret Jack double team Willie Green. Butler got the ball and calmly knocked down the triple. Thompson also got caught cheating to the opposite side of the court once, leaving Matt Barnes open for the 3-pointer.
He played some good defense on Blake Griffin—although doing so earned him four fouls in four minutes of action. He did lose Odom in the second quarter on a backdoor cut. Odom got the ball and passed to Griffin underneath. But Biedrins wisely bear hugged Griffin before he could shoot. Overall, Biedrins' night was short, but savvy.
Jarret Jack D
He came in with a hurt elbow from a weight lifting accident during the week. Judging by his 3-for-9 performance and by the eyeball test, his aching elbow seemed to affect his shot. His jumper didn’t look right until the second half and he wasn’t hitting that teardrop shot the way he normally does. Jack’s defensive performance was worse. He lost Willie Green on two nearly identical backdoor cuts. Green took passes from Griffin and scored on both. Then at the end of the first quarter, Green outran him to the hoop but missed the shot. Jack just seemed a step slow most of the night.
Festus Ezeli A-
You would think a guy who only played 3:45 before getting summoned to the bench would have been stinking up the joint. Quite the contrary. I thought Ezeli was as active and effective as I’ve seen him. He started off with an impressive put back slam early in the first quarter to pull the Warriors to within 8-6. He had a very hard time guarding Griffin on his first try, but he blocked Griffin’s shot on the second try. And, just before Coach Jackson took him out at the 8:15 mark of the first quarter, Ezeli ripped down impressive rebounds at both ends of the floor.
When he got back in the game, he frequently played nice defense on Griffin--only to see Griffin pass it to a man left open by a Warrior teammate for an easy two. But, that wasn’t always the case. Once, Ezeli knocked the ball away from Griffin on a post up. That play led to a Warrior 3-point play. Later, with the Clippers on the break, Ezeli knocked away a lob pass intended for Griffin. Still later, he ate up Griffin’s post up shot with a tremendous block.
Festus Ezeli played very well—far better than his two-point, three-rebound stat line suggests.
Harrison Barnes C+
Let’s get the bad out of the way. Here’s a scenario that played out many times Saturday at Staples. A Warrior drifts away from his man to double team another Clipper or to get in rebounding position for an anticipated shot from the other side of the court. Three seconds later, the ball finds its way to the now uncovered man for an open jumper that knocks down—despite the frantic, last minute effort of the Warrior who left him alone to put a hand in his face. Lee, Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green were repeat offenders Saturday night. But, Harrison Barnes was the worst. And, Barnes contributed to the Warriors' big early deficit by failing to knock down a couple of good open looks—one after an especially nice pass from Curry. Now, for the good. Barnes showed—as he often has lately—a lot of creativity and explosiveness in getting to the rim for easy shots. He was one of the few Warriors to shoot over 50 percent when the game was still in doubt.
Landry had the least luck of anyone trying to guard Griffin in the low post. On post ups against Landry, Griffin scored nine points and drew two fouls. Landry ultimately needed double team help from Green to finally slow Griffin down. He did manage to take it to Griffin in the low post and draw a foul once. Once Griffin sat down for a rest, Landry fouled Ronny Turiaf fighting for a loose ball. He was whistled for three fouls in the first half. Later, Landry got a defensive 3-second call. His saving grace was his team high eight trips to the foul line--a testament to his toughness inside. He always brings great effort. Still he gets a low grade for this night because he wasn’t able to provide nearly enough scoring on a night when the Warriors desperately needed points. And, he couldn’t stop Griffin.
Draymond Green C
Hit three of five shots and pulled down eights boards in 15 minutes. He had his defensive struggles when the game was on the line like everybody else, though.
His 3-for-3 performance from the field further entrenched him—in my mind at least—as the best mid-range shooter on this team. But, through no fault of his own, his production came with the game out of reach against Clipper backups.
Jeremy Tyler D
He showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and he had a nice rebound. However, an old problem arose again: he got the ball taken from him in traffic. This has been a constant problem for him in his time as a Warrior.
Kent Bazemore C-
He had a rough go of it in his first four minutes on the floor as a scorer, ball handler and defender. He had particular trouble keeping the speedy Eric Bledsoe in front of him. But Bazemore seemed to settle down in the final three-and-a-half minutes, hitting three tough long range jumpers.
His stroke looked good, despite his 2-for 5-shooting performance. He looked strong and confident—the way you would hope a guy with his experience would. Played sound, team oriented basketball even though he was playing strictly in garbage time. The Warriors will be glad to have a guy like him to turn to at some point this season.