19 Apr 19
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
LOS ANGELES — Which two quarters don’t go with the other 10?
Take Game 1 and Game 3 and the first half of Game 2, and Golden State is outscoring the Clippers by 67 points.
Only the second half of Monday’s Game 2, a trick of light and shadows, has saved this first-round series from the brink of Cancun, and other NBA vacationlands.
The Warriors seized a 31-point lead in Game’2, embossing themselves in the embarrassment section of the playoff record books. They got to a 31-point lead in the third quarter in Game 3 here Thursday, and assistant coach Jarron Collins helpfully reminded head coach Steve Kerr.
The eclipse did not repeat. Golden State went on to nail down a 132-105 victory over two-and-a-half hours. About 90 minutes of that were pointless. The Warriors had flashed their championship ID in a 40-point second quarter.
And the Clippers basically faded into the scenery. Their starting lineup scored 46 points, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell weren’t allowed to put the game on fast-forward in the second quarter, and Danilo Gallinari was a nightmarish 2 for 13 from the field. The Warriors slapped big double-teams on Gallinari most times when he got the ball in the first quarter. Then they switched carefully on Williams and allowed him few of their lane drives, and he went 1 for 3 from the 3-point line.
“We didn’t really play for each other tonight,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We got behind and everybody was trying to win the game for himself, and that isn’t the way we play.”
For all the Clippers’ good works and righteous observance of the way the game needs to be played, they did not have good fortune [cq comment=”Mark, haven’t heard back from ya … this is the spot where there was nothing between have and with … change “good fortune” to whatever you want it to be”]with the No. 8 seed and a date with a Hall of Fame lineup.
“We got our ass kicked,” Williams said. “They willed themselves to play defense tonight, and then on the other end they can make crazy shots. That can be discouraging. They were cooking on all cylinders on both ends.”
Although Kevin Durant got physical and mental revenge on Patrick Beverley with a 38-point night, this was an old-time Warriors victory, from the days before Durant arrived. Part of that is Andrew Bogut, the criminally underrated center during Golden State’s first two title seasons.
Bogut spent most of this season back in Australia, with the Sydney Kings in the National Basketball League. He signed a two-year contract, and his coach, Andrew Gaze, called it the most important signing in league history. At the time, Bogut pledged that he would spend both years in Sydney, with “no NBA outs,” but then he blossomed into the league’s MVP. When Golden State came calling, the Kings did not stand in his way.
“I think he’s in a very good place right now,” Kerr said.
Bogut was in several good places in Game 2. He got 14 rebounds and put up a good argument whenever Harrell, Ivica Zubac and other “bigs” reached the lane. His passing and screen-setting were a prime ingredient in the Warriors’ success in 2015 and 2016. Granted, this team won an NBA championship with Zaza Pachulia starting 57 games in the post, and it will run into playoff nights when it wishes it still had DeMarcus Cousins, who injured a quad and is out for the year.
But the Warriors and Bogut have a mutual comfort society. Andre Iguodala also looked several years younger on this night, and it all served to remind us that Golden State is, at heart, a defensive team.
“I’m probably more appreciative of everything this time around,” Bogut said. “I know what my role is with this team, and the system really hasn’t changed that much. I’m supposed to be a presence in the lane, talk on defense, rebound and make good decisions.”
“He’s been a godsend,” Kerr said.
All of Golden State’s lineups were effective, and Steph Curry poured in 21 points in 20 foul-truncated minutes. But the Clippers had no idea how to get over or around the Warriors when they went jumbo: Bogut, Iguodala, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Alfonzo McKinnie.
[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section”]“They were by far more physical than us,” Rivers said. “Their defense was a lot better than our offense. We got some shots, but not a lot of good ones.”
And Williams was irked that the Clippers let Durant go on his 14-for-23 spree even though Durant had basically promised he would respond to Beverley’s Game 2 provocations.
“He announced himself before we got here, and we either weren’t prepared or we didn’t get the job done,” Williams said. “On the other side of that coin, he’s Kevin Durant and he’s capable of making those shots.”
They do it again on Sunday afternoon.
“If we win that one, we’re tied in the series,” Rivers said. “Thank God it’s not college.”
He is also thankful that a playoff series isn’t conducted on the quarter system.