The Golden State Warriors improved to 33-0 at home and moved to within eight wins of tying the single-season record set by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls with a 114-98 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
The win also propelled the Warriors (64-7) to a season-series sweep of their Pacific Division rivals. Meanwhile, the Clippers (43-27) have now lost three straight and five of their last six overall, with several blowouts littering their recent results, according to Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver:
Clippers have now lost to Warriors, Spurs, Cavaliers, Thunder, Grizzlies, and Hawks in the last 18 days -- all by double digits...— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) March 24, 2016
Golden State entered halftime up just two points after appearing a half-step slow throughout the first half, but the defending champions turned things up in a way only they can when the second half rolled around.
The Warriors ripped off a 10-1 run to start the third quarter and led by as many as 14 points in the frame as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson caught fire from beyond the arc and started to shred the Clippers in transition.
Curry—who entered Wednesday night in a relative slump after posting 14 and 19 points in back-to-back games—cracked the 20-point threshold once again with 33 points on 12-of-23 shooting, including a wicked step-back triple over Clippers center DeAndre Jordan late in the second quarter:
The NBA's reigning MVP also put on a distributive display when he hit Draymond Green with a left-handed pass from 50 feet for a slam to punctuate a momentum shift in Golden State's favor:
Thompson added 32 points, while Green did his usual stat-sheet-stuffing thing with 12 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals for his 28th double-double of the season.
The Clippers, who are generally one of the league's stronger teams in terms of three-point shooting, struggled to find a rhythm from beyond the arc. Overall, Los Angeles shot 28.6 percent on three-point attempts and was outscored 45-24 from beyond the arc.
Playing without Blake Griffin, who's still nursing hand and quad injuries, the Clippers leaned heavily on Jordan. And not only did the explosive center hold up his end of the bargain with some stupendous rim protection, but he also grabbed a game-high 20 rebounds and dropped a team-high 19 points, including a huge lob finish courtesy of Chris Paul:
But as ESPN's J.A. Adande noted, Jordan had no answer for Golden State's offense:
In the first LAC-GSW game this season DeAndre stayed back on screens & Steph hit 3s. Tonight DeAndre's up & the lane is wide open. #nowin— J.A. Adande (@jadande) March 24, 2016
The Clippers' problem was that they had very little in the way of consistency beyond Jordan. Paul struggled with his shot, posting 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting, and J.J. Redick was similarly limited to nine points on 4-of-13 shooting (1-of-6 from three).
When Jordan wasn't on the floor, the Clippers faced even bigger problems.
After the Warriors closed the first quarter trailing by five points, they ripped off a 16-4 run over the opening minutes of the second frame with Jordan situated on the bench.
According to The Cauldron's Nate Duncan, L.A.'s shortcomings were facilitated by an inability to roll out a strong second unit:
These Clips units have Crawford gunning and.......what else, as a source of offense? At least put in Redick to run pin downs or something.— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) March 24, 2016
Lacking the firepower necessary to keep pace with the league's top-ranked offense, per NBA.com, the Clippers tumbled to 4-7 in March. As a result, they're in jeopardy of squandering home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Clippers now own a meager three-game edge over the Memphis Grizzlies for the Western Conference's No. 4 seed, and they're headed into dangerous territory.
Los Angeles is slated to square off against the Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder and pesky Minnesota Timberwolves before the month comes to a close, and none of those games will be easy if Doc Rivers' side continues to hemorrhage points.
As for the Warriors, their pursuit of history is about to shift into another gear. With eight wins separating them from a share of the NBA's single-season record and nine victories standing between them and immortality, the Warriors should be motivated to keep the pedal to the floor as the regular season winds down.
And with three straight home games coming up against the sliding Dallas Mavericks, woeful Philadelphia 76ers and inconsistent Washington Wizards, Golden State is in prime position to enter April with a full head of steam.
According to the Orange County Register's Dan Woike, Rivers broke down what went wrong as the Clippers came up empty for the fourth time this season against the Warriors:
We had too many single-possession mistakes - Doc Rivers said. Said team played with the right spirit tonight.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) March 24, 2016
Elsewhere, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters Wednesday's matchup failed to live up to the top billing it received, per ESPN.com's Ethan Strauss:
Kerr says there wasn't that same energy to the rivalry— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) March 24, 2016
Kerr also discussed the way the Clippers decided to attack Curry on switches in the pick-and-roll, according to Warriors sideline reporter Rosalyn Gold-Onwude:
Kerr saying basically now opponents switching on D, bigs on Steph, physical. But key is to move ball & not lose flow by isolating mismatches— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) March 24, 2016
"I think he's been playing well last two weeks, whether shots been going in or not," Kerr said of Harrison Barnes (11 points, six rebounds), per Gold-Onwude. "He's better defensively."