LOS ANGELES (AP) — After having four days off, the Los Angeles Clippers looked more rusty than rested during the first three quarters of their game yesterday against the Golden State Warriors.
Then, they were able to get things in gear just in time.
Kawhi Leonard scored 10 of his 36 points over the final 12 minutes as the Clippers rallied from a 10-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter for a 109-100 victory.
“We put so much energy and stuff in the past two days that I felt we were trying to do the right thing instead of just playing,” said Lou Williams, who added 21 points. “We started playing more free and open in the fourth. Our energy picked up, we got some stops and the pace picked up.”
The Warriors had a 83-73 lead going into the final 12 minutes before Los Angeles went on a 14-2 run over the first three-plus minutes to take a 87-85 lead. Montrezl Harrell keyed the rally with seven of his 11 points.
Eric Paschall’s jumper tied it at 87 before Williams hit a fadeway three-pointer with 6:56 remaining to give the Clippers the lead for good. Leonard put an exclamation point on the win with a driving dunk with 1:16 remaining to put LA up by six and give it two straight wins over Golden State for the first time since 2011.
Leonard also had nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. He is the first Clippers player to have at least 36 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals in a game since Ron Harper in 1994.
“In the fourth quarter, we took care of the ball,” Leonard said. “I feel like they were making shots early and doing a good job running their offence. In the fourth, we were able to contest shots.”
The Clippers shot only 25 per cent from beyond the arc (eight of 32) and committed 17 turnovers in the first three quarters, but were three of seven on three-pointers and committed only two turnovers in the fourth.
“They just overwhelmed us,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “Kawhi and Lou Williams both got going, Harrell got going, and we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket. We just couldn’t quite keep up with them in the fourth.”
Rivers isn’t panicking over the Clippers slow starts, but he does realise it could become a problem over the long run.
“There’s not a lot we can do about it today. If we play like that in April or May, that will hurt us,” he said.
Glenn Robinson III and Omari Spellman scored 17 apiece for Golden State, which has lost its last seven, and Alec Burks added 16.
The Warriors had a 53-48 lead at halftime. It was tied at 37 when Spellman sank a pair of three-pointers during a 9-2 Golden State run.
It was tied at 58 early in the third quarter when the Warriors retook control with a 12-4 run that included six points from Burks. They would extend their lead to 10 at the end of the third,
Spellman made his first start as a member of the Warriors and made half of their three-pointers, going four of eight. He started 11 games as a rookie last season with Atlanta, but was excited about the opportunity yesterday.
“This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for. My confidence has been coming back, so just wanted to hoop,” he said.