This one was played like a driveway game between rival siblings.
In a feisty contest that featured plenty of scrapping and jawing, the Golden State Warriors knocked off the Los Angeles Clippers 115-94 on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
It wasn’t exactly little brother overcoming big brother. It’s as if the two teams were twins, and one happened to hit a growth spurt a year earlier.
The Clippers, a playoff team last season and currently in first place in the Pacific Division, had their 17-game win streak snapped in Denver on Tuesday night.
With the victory, the Warriors are now just 2.5 games behind the Clippers in the division and have won 15 of their last 19 games. Golden State is the only team this season to beat Los Angeles twice, and the two teams meet again at the Staples Center on Saturday.
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Stephen Curry scored 25 of his 31 points in the first half and finished 11-for-16 from the field including six three-pointers and eight assists.
In one of the Warriors’ more physical games of the season, Curry battled most of the night with Los Angeles’ elite superstar Chris Paul, who finished with 23 points and six assists.
Curry outplayed Paul in the first half and shot 9-for-11 for a season-high 25 points in a half. Paul had four points and four assists in the half. The Warriors jumped out to a 28-6 lead midway through the first quarter and led 62-49 at halftime.
Curry said he didn’t want to brag, but there was a point in the game when he knew he was locked in.
“I was in the corner and Lamar closed out and I lost sight of the rim,” Curry said. “I knew it was going in just because it felt good. I haven’t been that in lock in awhile so it felt good.”
The game was physical from the start, and it’s aggressive nature picked up in the third quarter after a flagrant foul was called when Festus Ezeli grabbed the arm of Blake Griffin as he made a move towards the basket. Griffin landed heavily on his right shoulder and seemed to hit part of his head on the court.
Paul led an assault on Curry in the third quarter, when the Warriors guard tried to protect the ball with both hands and strong elbows from Paul’s grabbing hands. Paul ended up coming up with the ball when no foul was called and Curry was left on the hardwood. On the defensive side, Curry was clearly jawing at Paul.
“That’s how he plays defense,” Curry said. “He’s kind of pesky out there, trying to disrupt your timing. You just have to be aggressive and make the right plays. He still deflected some passes, but for the most part, you’ve just got to keep attacking him and meet force with force.”
In another heated moment later in the third quarter, Paul had words for Andris Biedrins after the two battled for a loose ball.
“I think I have a team that proved they have developed an edge, toughness and confidence,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.
David Lee’s lively spirit was present after going to the ground on a hard two-hand block attempt by Griffin, as he clapped vehemently at the Clippers forward. Lee finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
“They are a team with a lot of athleticism and if you’re not physical with them they can really overwhelm you on the boards and get out in transition,” Lee said.
When asked if it got a little scrappy out there, Lee responded: “A little bit. These are two teams that close to each other in the standings and in the same division. We know how well they have been playing so we wanted to come out and play our best.
“I think a lot of our fans were using this as a barometer coming off a big month for both teams to see where we were.”
The Warriors shot 50 percent from the field and 52.2 percent from three-point range while limiting the Clippers to just 36.3 percent shooting and 27.6 percent three-point shooting. The Warriors have now held four of their last six opponents to less than 40 percent shooting.
The Warriors also dominated the rebounding battle 53-38.
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