The Los Angeles Clippers took control of their series against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, getting a huge win at Oracle Arena behind the relentless play of Chris Paul. The victory didn't come easy, though, and in the opinions of some around Golden State, maybe it shouldn't have happened at all.
In the waning seconds of Game 3, the Warriors had a chance to tie or take the lead while trailing, 98-96. As anyone could have guessed, the team set up Stephen Curry on the perimeter, hoping he could free himself up for one of his patented, bone-sawing jumpers.
Instead, he got muscled up by CP3, whiffed on the shot, and wasn't too happy afterwards:
Once the final buzzer rang, Curry stuck around the court to argue with referee Ken Mauer, who decided to swallow his whistle on that play. In the locker room, the Warriors' point guard appeared pretty unhappy when asked if he was fouled. From USA Today's Sam Amick:
"Hundred percent," said Curry. "I feel like that. Obviously (the officials) didn't feel like that, so I'm not going to complain about it. I thought if a guy is going up to shoot the ball, and you have a forearm body contact on the jump, that's usually a foul."
He continued, clearly directing his frustration towards the officiating:
"I'm sure they were looking at my release, to see if he hit my arm. But there was a lot more going on than that. They probably didn't want to have a conversation. All they said was 'I didn't think you got hit there.' It felt like (he was also hit on the arm), but I knew I got hit on the body. That's why I was off-balance.
"That's my go-to move is the stepback. I don't shoot airballs very often."
Awesomeness of casually saying "I don't shoot airballs very often" aside, Curry unsurprisingly had an ally after the game in coach Mark Jackson. Via Amick:
"Well, he's supposed to be able to land. Clearly he wasn't able to. I'm not looking for an apology (from the NBA) tomorrow though."
It's hard to say whether Curry was given the ability to land considering the way his legs kick out at the end of the shot, but Paul pretty clearly bodied him up. It's not necessarily an obvious foul, and everyone knows that whistles tend to go silent as the buzzer nears. Still, it was enough for Curry to feel frustrated after the game.
It appears Golden State has some serious motivational ammo going into Game 4 after all of this. As if the Warriors needed any more reasons to get pumped for another contest at Oracle, CP3's antics at the end of Thursday's game should add another layer.
As one would expect, Paul avoided the situation after the game, though.
"I knew who was getting (the ball), and I figured he was going to shoot it," he said. "So I just tried to make him as uncomfortable as possible, and we won the game."
Regardless of Paul's intentions, he's right: the Clippers won the game. They're now up 2-1 in the series and could return to Los Angeles later this week with the series essentially in hand. However, after all this messiness at the end of Game 3, Golden State probably plans to punch back next time around.