Another incredibly fun game between these two teams. The Warriors led most of the way, but they had to hold off a couple of Clippers runs to maintain that lead. In the end, they benefited from Chris Paul playing through injury and a couple of beautiful play designs that got them open shots late to seal the deal.
We're going to spend some time breaking down my favorite of all of those: this play to get Stephen Curry a wide-open three to put Golden State up four. First, here's video. Apologies for the poor quality, but it's needed to show the entire play.
In Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors have two of the best shooters in the league. This is an incredible weapon late in games, especially when they are used off each other. This play starts with Jarrett Jack dribbling out front as Thompson and Curry run identical curls on each side.
Already, the Clippers must account for two players. It's hard to stop one shooter from getting open; it's even harder to stop two. Curry and Thompson eventually finish their moves in the same place, and here's where the real fun begins.
Curry and Thompson come together, then immediately dart to opposite baseline screens. This confuses their defenders for a second. Should Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford switch? Should they try to keep track of their own men? They end up doing the latter, but that half a second of confusion is enough for Curry to get the angle on Crawford and run him right into Carl Landry's screen.
The key to running a good play is forcing the defense to account for multiple legitimate options. The way Mark Jackson used Curry and Thompson to confuse the defense was a textbook example of that.
Golden State has now won three of four against the Clippers this season. Understanding that we have to be careful to make too much of this stuff, I think this is significant. First-round upsets rarely happen, but when they do, it's usually because the lower-seeded team happens to win the regular-season series. The Clippers were mostly healthy for all of these games, and the Warriors still beat them more often. Golden State's guards give the Clippers trouble because L.A. doesn't have an elite wing stopper, and that will be a problem if the two teams square off in the playoffs.
I'm not saying the Clippers will lose. I am saying that their fans should probably hope to play someone else.
What is there to say about the Lakers that hasn't already been said? This game featured the usual fall behind early--->Kobe Bryant shoots them back in --->the defense falls apart late pattern.
There's lots of things to say about Pau Gasol, but I'll save those for another time.
It's too bad these two teams won't play again during the regular season. This game wasn't pretty by any means. The execution down the stretch, to be honest, was downright abhorrent. But it was incredibly competitive and evenly-matched, the kinds of things you don't usually hear about a regular-season contest.
Brooklyn won this round, but it really could have gone either way. Joe Johnson's go-ahead hoop was the result of awful offense bailed out by a big play. Carmelo Anthony's ensuing missed go-ahead attempt was the result of a somewhat decent play -- get Melo the ball on the move on the right block -- that failed badly because Anthony air-balled a decent look. You could easily have turned those two plays around.
This win was significant for the Nets, though, because things are starting to come together. Johnson has found himself and is now taking over more of the offense from Deron Williams. Brook Lopez continues to be consistent, Williams has settled down after a horrible start and Kris Humphries is once again making an impact. They didn't need this win as validation for their recent strong play, but it certainly helps.
The Knicks, meanwhile, could really use a healthy Raymond Felton.
Weird game. The Spurs raced way ahead, the 76ers rallied and took the lead back, and then the Spurs flicked off yet another boisterous road crowd with a great comeback to get the win. Nothing rattles them at this point. They just calmly run their offense and get it done when the other team's execution crumbles.
In many ways, this was the difference between a good team and a bad team. Hate to make it that simple, but that pretty much explains this one.
Wizards 98, Blazers 95
It's only fitting that a game that made as little sense as this one ended in this fashion:
Don't even bother trying to explain that one. Just enjoy the steez.
An ugly game that ended in appropriate fashion. Memphis tied the game when a possession gone horribly wrong got salvaged by Tony Allen stealing the ball from Roy Hibbert and finding Zach Randolph for a layup. Indiana won the game when George Hill barreled into Marc Gasol and got bailed out with a foul call. Not exactly the most exciting of endings.
Paul George had a rough shooting outing, but he hit the critical go-ahead three to put Indiana ahead for good. I guess that's the mark of a star player? Who knows.
The Grizzlies' problems remain the same as they always have been. The real shame is that they wasted one of Wayne Ellington's rare torrid shooting performances.
This one was frustrating. The Bobcats played beautifully the whole game and lost because James Harden kept barreling down the lane and drawing blocking fouls. More power to him if he can pull that off, but it's too bad that Charlotte couldn't execute well enough down the stretch to make their good effort count. They outplayed Houston and just couldn't finish.
There comes a time in every game when you need one of your key players to make a couple big shots to stem a run. The Timberwolves' key players are all injured. That's kind of an issue.
The Kings made a bit of a late run to make this respectable, but this one was basically over by halftime. Hopefully Anthony Davis is OK.