LOS ANGELES – Though the Warriors surely welcomed the sight of a dazzling shooting exhibition by point guard Stephen Curry, it was not enough to overcome a furious Clippers team Thursday night at Staples Center.
Curry and Los Angeles point guard Chris Paul staged a brilliant game within the game, with Paul prevailing. Curry finished with 38 points and nine assists, but Paul went home with 42 points, 15 assists – and a 126-115 victory.
Power forward David Lee added 22 points and center Andrew Bogut 17, as all five Warriors starters scored in double figures.
Yet it was Curry who had the sellout crowd alternately awed and anxious. After struggling with his shooting throughout preseason and in the season opener Wednesday, he made 13-of-22 shots and, moreover, 9-of-14 3-pointers.
STANDOUT PERFORMANCES: Curry and Paul were the winners here. They engaged each other with such ferocity it seemed personal. Each man certainly realizes how much he means to his team. Paul was one point off his career-high scoring output.
For all the noise generated by Blake Griffin's thunderous alley-oop dunks, this game was about Paul doing what leaders do. After a stunning loss to the Lakers on opening night, he made sure his team bounced back with unrelenting vigor.
TURNING POINT: The Clippers went on a 20-7 run late in the second quarter, taking a 65-47 lead 1:54 before halftime, and barely were threatened after that.
Every late Warriors rally, and there were several generated by Curry, seemed to meet with a personal response from Paul, who scored 15 points in the final quarter.
The Clippers also clobbered the Warriors with second-chance points, as starting big men DeAndre Jordan and Griffin dominated the glass for a 27-11 rebounding advantage over Bogut and Lee.
There also were several acrimonious moments during the game, the most notable when Bogut and Jordan got into a shoving match that resulted in a double technical. This is an indication of the heat between these teams.
INJURY REPORT: Small forward Harrison Barnes missed his second consecutive regular-season game with what the Warriors describe as inflammation in his left foot. He has not practiced or played for 24 days, and there has been no indication when he might return.
UP NEXT: The Warriors return to the comfortable confines of home on Saturday to face yet another increasingly bitter enemy, this one from only 80 miles away, when they meet the Sacramento Kings at Oracle Arena.