Golden State needed to find that one stop late in the game. The Clippers were certainly not stopping the Warriors as long as they were aggressive and patient on offense — with that little sense of urgency that comes from trailing late in a Game Seven.
That stop would not come.
Chris Paul rocketed past the defense and found J.J. Redick. Or Blake Griffin found DeAndre Jordan on a crucial lob. Or Jordan was there to clean up a missed basket with an emphatic putback jam. Or Griffin drove from the elbow and somehow, someway willed the ball into the basket for an and-1.
Los Angeles’ quesitonable defense and Stephen Curry’s 3-point shooting — with some help from a Draymond Green triple — kept things interesting. After Los Angeles made its second half run though, this game was all Clippers in a 126-121 victory at Staples Center.
Blake Griffin scored 24 points. Chris and Jamal Crawford each had 22 points. J.J. Redick scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half.
Stephen Curry scored 33 points and Draymond Green had 24 points. Green was critical in the first half as he was a strong shooter to stretch the defense. The Warriors were hot and got a double digit lead.
But Golden State was not great at keeping that shooting going and consistently getting to the basket. Los Angeles eventually overtook them and this became a fight. The Warriors inconsistency on offense reared its head again.
Golden State lost the lead when the team rushed through its offense and settled for early 3-pointers. That has been a problem all year long for Golden State and one of the key reasons the team is headed home.
The Clippers have defense issues. The Warriors kept scoring. But so did the Clippers. Chris Paul dug deep and willed Los Angeles forward with Blake Griffin and all the others filling their role and doing their part.
It was an impressive win in an impressive series.