The final Christmas Day game had a little bit of everything. The Warriors and Clippers gave basketball fans plenty of highlights in the only really close game of the night. Despite a quiet first half, Stephen Curry came to life late to lead the Warriors to hard-fought 105-103 victory.
Curry went toe to toe with the best point guard in the league in Chris Paul and, although his final numbers weren't as impressive, his team got the win. Curry finished with 15 points and 11 assists while Paul notched 26 points and 11 assists.
The Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan scoring the first eight points of the game from either team. Golden State rallied from the early 8-0 deficit, but Los Angeles kept attacking the rim and drawing fouls en route to a 30-22 lead after one quarter.' big men got off to a hot start, with
For a typically dynamic, hot-shootingoffense, the first half was full of clanks and bricks early on before things started clicking. Midway through the second quarter, the team's shooting percentage was hovering in the mid-30s, but the final six minutes of the half saw Golden State shoot 8-of-11 as part of a 16-8 run.
That burst of good luck came at a good time for the Warriors, too, as the team's perimeter-oriented attack didn't lend to many trips to the charity stripe. None of Golden State's starters took a free throw in the first half, and the team shot just three as a whole.
The Clippers still entered halftime with a 53-51 lead, but Golden State's play was clearly on the up-and-up entering the break.
Once the second half started, it didn't take long for the Warriors to take the lead. Some sloppy play from the Clippers led to a couple easy baskets for Golden State, including a rare dunk from Klay Thompson. From that point on, it was a back-and-forth affair that went down to the final buzzer.
Blake Griffin gave the Clippers his usual production, notching yet another double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan provided a handful of highlight-worthy plays throughout the night. He had a game-high 6 blocks and altered several other shots in the paint. And, of course, Jordan threw down some downright vicious dunks and alley-oops. He finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
David Lee and Andrew Bogut attempted to provide the same sort of front court production for the Warriors, as each big man recorded a double-double. Lee finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds while Bogut had just 10 points to go with his 14 boards.
Thanks to some great defense by Chris Paul, it took Stephen Curry an unusually long time to get in the scoring column. After missing his first five shots, Curry finally got a three-pointer to take a lucky bounce and roll in the basket. It seemed like that shot might be the one to get Curry going, but the star point guard continued to struggle throughout the first three quarters. He entered the fourth quarter with just five points on 2-of-12 shooting.
It's pretty clear that these teams don't like each other and things got a little bit testy in the fourth quarter. Draymond Green lost his cool when he threw an elbow at Blake Griffin and received a flagrant-2 foul. Green was ejected and Griffin received a technical foul. Shortly after that, Bogut and Griffin got tangled up and Griffin received his second technical foul, which meant that he was also ejected from the game.
It's not exactly surprising that these two teams got into it, but it was weird that it happened when it did. It wasn't in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter or in the midst of a really lopsided game. This was during the fourth quarter of a hotly contested game on national television. Neither team was in any position to be giving away points, much less losing important players due to ejection.
As the game approached its finally minutes, it turned into a battle of the two best players -- Chris Paul vs. Stephen Curry. Curry scored nine points in the final 10 minutes of the game and CP3 came oh-so-close to forcing overtime on two separate occasions.
The two point guards went back and forth, matching each other with a few ridiculous shots. In the end, it came right down to the wire. Chris Paul missed a layup with a chance to tie the game at 105 and under 20 seconds left and then had another potential game-tying layup blocked with 1 second on the clock. Jamal Crawford's last second three just barely grazed the front of the rim as time expired and the Warriors walked away with a 105-103 victory.