Warriors beat Clippers on testy Christmas night
By JANIE McCAULEY
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Clippers star Blake Griffin fired off some harsh words for the Golden State Warriors after being ejected on a Christmas night turned spirited.
Coach Doc Rivers is equally as irritated - and believes the Warriors tried to get Griffin thrown out.
Griffin and Golden State's Draymond Green were long gone before a wild finish Wednesday night, when Klay Thompson blocked a shot by Chris Paul with 1 second left then contested Jamal Crawford's 3-pointer that fell short at the final buzzer to send the Warriors past Los Angeles 105-103.
Griffin was ejected for his second technical with 10:43 remaining after scuffling with Andrew Bogut, following Green to the showers after they got into it at the end of the third. Green was tossed for a flagrant 2 foul.
"If you look at it, I didn't do anything and I got thrown out of the game. It all boils down to they (referees) fell for it," Griffin said. "To me, it's cowardly basketball. I don't know their intentions, but it worked. ... If I knew the answer I'd probably be in a different position. Tonight I got two technicals for nothing."
Without Griffin, the Clippers missed too many chances in the waning moments.
Paul's lay-in with 11.9 seconds left went around the rim and out, but Andre Iguodala missed a pair of free throws with 9.3 seconds remaining. That gave the Clippers the ball back with 8.3 seconds to go.
Stephen Curry overcame a slow start to score seven of his 15 points over the final 3:01 to go with 11 assists as Golden State snapped the Pacific Division-leading Clippers' season-best five-game winning streak. Thompson finished with 23 points and David Lee had 23 points and 13 rebounds.
When the game ended, players tangled near the tunnel to the Clippers' locker room and security personnel stepped in - and former Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson could be seen screaming in the middle of it all.
Whether the Warriors intended to ignite Griffin, Rivers can only guess.
"I don't know if they were but it sure looked like it. I can't accuse them of that but it looked like it. I'm not sure but that's what it looked like," Rivers said. "It's whatever you have to do to win, I guess."
This one was sure was feisty and festive from the opening tipoff at sold-out Oracle Arena, where fans wore "Christmas Whiteout" snowflake Warriors T-shirts for the holiday occasion.
Paul had 26 points and 11 assists as he and Curry put on a late-game show between two of the Western Conference's top point guards. Griffin added 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists before his early exit.
Bogut added 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Neither Rivers nor Warriors coach Mark Jackson is ready to deem this a California rivalry just yet - not until both teams are consistent contenders year after year, they say.
It's certainly getting heated enough to be close to such status. And they see each other twice more. The Clippers come back Jan. 30.
"We like them. Merry Christmas," Jackson said jokingly. "It's just physical basketball, so we don't get caught up in that. ... It's good, old-fashioned basketball between two teams that are playing for something."
Griffin was held back by teammates at the end of the third quarter while jawing with Green. Following a review, Griffin received a technical and Green was ejected for a flagrant foul 2 after throwing an elbow.
"You have some key matchups in the game where guys want to go at each other," Green said. "Any time you have that, you're going to have a tough, hard-nosed game."
Then, officials went to review once more to look at a tussle between Griffin and Bogut. Griffin left the game while Bogut was hit with a flagrant 1 and a technical.
The Clippers, who never trailed in the first half, took a 77-74 lead into the see-saw fourth. They dropped to 19-3 when leading after three quarters and 8-3 on the road.
Los Angeles beat Golden State 126-115 at home on Oct. 31 to hand the Warriors their first loss a day after a season-opening win against the Lakers.
Curry performed when it mattered, though he is shooting just 9 for 44 in three Christmas games. Lee and Bogut each have double digits in rebounds in 10 straight games.
Golden State grabbed its first lead at the 10:35 mark in the third on Bogut's running jumper and began the second half with an 11-6 spurt.
The Warriors were 22 for 52 in the first half - taking more shots than the Clippers' 21 of 40 - but Lee's dunk pulled Golden State within 53-51 at halftime.
Notes: Former Warriors G Matt Barnes got some Christmas boos when he checked in for the Clippers midway through the first, while Antawn Jamison still gets his due respect. ... The Warriors played their 23rd Christmas game and third in four years after having Christmas off for 26 years. They lost their previous Dec. 25 outing to the Clippers 105-86 at Oracle - Los Angeles' last on Golden State's home floor - to start the lockout-shortened 66-game 2011-12 season. ... The Warriors haven't lost a season series to the Clippers since 2005-06. Golden State was one of only two teams along with the Thunder to take three of four from Los Angeles last season.
Updated December 26, 2013
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