Stephen Curry Drops 44, Warriors Earn Tight 134-127 Win over Clippers

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2018

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after making a 3-point basket at the buzzer in the first quarter of the team's NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

The Golden State Warriors (45-14) were mired in a midseason malaise before the All-Star break, but they took a small step toward snapping out of it as they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, 134-127, at Oracle Arena on Thursday night. 

The win was a welcome sight for the defending champions, who lost three of their final six games prior to the week-long layoff. It also represented revenge of sorts after the Clippers (30-27) took the last meeting on Jan. 10 behind a career-high 50 points from Lou Williams

This time around, there was no scoring explosion from the Clippers' vaunted sixth man.

Instead, the Warriors made a concerted effort to clamp down on Williams, run him off the three-point line and force him to facilitate (11 assists) with the tenacious Andre Iguodala operating as his primary defender. As a result, he was limited to 19 points on 6-of-16 shooting.

Stephen Curry didn't run into similar resistance. 

The Warriors floor general filled it up with a game-high 44 points (14-of-19 shooting), 10 assists and six rebounds, and his 8-of-11 performance from beyond the arc included a half-court heave at the end of the first quarter plus a pair of clutch conversions with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. 

"That was Steph having a brilliant night," head coach Steve Kerr said after the win, according to the Mercury News' Logan Murdock

Kevin Durant (21 points) and Klay Thompson (19 points) both found buckets a bit harder to come by.

However, Durant doled out eight dimes and was one of three Golden State players to tally at least six helpers along with Curry and Draymond Green (six). 

Thompson, meanwhile, cooled down in the second half and made one of his final seven shots after opening the evening 7-of-7 for 17 points as he crossed the 10,000-point threshold for his career. 

And while the Warriors weren't at their finest for all 48 minutes—they committed 15 turnovers and got out-rebounded 8-3 on the offensive glass—the overall effort represented a positive development given the way they closed out the first half of the season. 

"I know it's not the Warriors of the last few years, as far as our record is concerned," Durant said Wednesday, per the Mercury News' Melissa Rohlin. "But we're a damn good team, and I'm not going to sit here and let anybody say we're struggling or hang our heads because we lost a few."

Now back in the win column, the Warriors will try to build on Thursday's triumph as they prepare to host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night. The Thunder, who defeated the Sacramento Kings on a Russell Westbrook buzzer-beater Thursday, are 2-0 against the Warriors this season. 

The Clippers are slated to return to the floor Friday for the second half of a back-to-back when they square off against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. 

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