The Golden State Warriors came into Saturday’s first round playoffs series against the Los Angeles Clippers as decided underdogs, but on Saturday, the Warriors edged the Clippers 105-109 in a close game that came down to costly errors down the stretch.
Prior to the game, even Warriors head coach Mark Jackson admitted he would have pick the Clippers if he was still working as an analyst, but he was the coach, so he believed in his guys.
The first half was an ugly affair that featured more fouls than highlight plays, but both teams entered the intermission level at 52-52.
At the half, Clippers forward Blake Griffin was in foul trouble with three fouls, and Warriors forward Andre Iguodala was in foul trouble with four fouls. Both players would eventually foul out, and Iguodala’s modest 20 minutes were slightly trumped by Griffin’s 19 minutes.
“We didn’t play real well,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “We were in foul trouble the whole game.”
The second half did not feature nearly as many whistles, and the quality of basketball improved. By the time three quarters were up, the Warriors had jumped out to an eight point lead. At that point, Clippers guard J.J. Redick led all scorers with 22 points on 8-11 shooting and was the one player who seemed to be shooting well for the home team.
However, Reddick would not attempt another shot for the remainder of the game, as the Clippers looked to Chris Paul down the stretch.
Paul scored 10 points in the final quarter to bring the Clippers back and level the score late in the game. However, Paul made a few costly errors that cost the Clippers the game.
First, Paul took off on a three-on-one fast break and opted to go to the rim instead of using the advantage-in-numbers. His missed layup immediately translated to a three-pointer in transition on the other end. That five-point swing in a close ball game could easily be pointed as the difference between winning and losing, and Paul lamented that mistake in particular during his post-game press conference.
Then, with 18.9 seconds remaining in a two-point ball game, Paul felt the defensive pressure from the Warriors and dropped the ball out of bounds, recording his sixth turnover of the game. With the game turning into a free throw contest from that point forward, the Warriors left the door open by missing a free throw.
Down by three points, Paul went to the free throw line with 11.9 seconds on the clock. The 28-year-old point guard missed both shots, and those misses effectively ended the ball game and gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead in the first round series.
After the game, Rivers summed up the afternoon: “We made too many mistakes to win the game.”