Los Angeles, CA— Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors get the much needed victory over the Los Angeles Clippers starting from a special 1st quarter, Thursday.
"It was a good step in the right direction," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "I think we did a lot of good things, but you can tell, it's not like we're going to wave a magic wand and be on top of our game again. But I like our start. We got off to a better stop."
Curry exploded for 44 points on 14-of-19 shooting from the field and 8-of-11 from behind the Arc. Curry Also had 8 rebounds and 10 assist. His third 40-point game this season. Kevin Durant chipped in 24 points and eight boards, and Klay Thompson added 19 points. Thompson reached 10,000 career points, becoming the 10th player in franchise history to accomplish such a feat.
First-quarter play has been an issue for the Warriors, but their production in the first is what got them over Thursday night. In their first game back from the All-Star break, head coach Steve Kerr tinkered with his starting lineup to generate an early spark. Backup center JaVale McGee, as ESPN reported beforehand, got the start in place of Zaza Pachulia.
"Coach felt like we needed more pressure at the rim to kind of open us up a bit on the wings and I thought Zaza handled it well," Durant said. "He came in and played extremely hard. We're going to need both of those guys. It doesn't matter if they're starting or coming off the bench. We're going to need both of them to be solid and play good basketball." At his pregame media address, Kerr revealed that his team had a 100.0 defensive rating in the first five minutes of games last season. This season, that rating has skyrocketed to 114.0. Prior to tonight, Golden State (45-14) had split its last eight games.
"It was nice to kind of build a lead and play from ahead the entire game and take advantage of those first 12 minutes," Curry said.
With the first quarter approaching a close, Curry dribbled around two defenders and launched a 37-foot jumper that hit nothing but net to beat the buzzer.
"You sling them up and try to get it off in time and see what happens," said Curry. "But when it does happen, it's a good vibe to end the quarter, end the half and not really worry about shooting percentage. Just chuck it and see what happens."
The Warriors scored 34 points in the quarter, the most points scored in an opening quarter since Jan. 25 against Minnesota.
It was the fast start Kerr had been searching for, and it was needed desperately. In the final three quarters, the Clippers outscored the home team 104-100.
"They had 23 [points] at the end of the first quarter, we got [a great first quarter] out the way, but we got to also know we got four quarters of basketball left to play. So, we're not impressed with giving up that many points in the last three quarters. We started the game off well, now we have to put the full game together."
Curry was in dagger mood, executing clutch heroics.
With center DeAndre Jordan switched on him at the top of the key, Curry drove right and hit a contested triple with five seconds remaining in the half. But on this occasion, there was a little bit too much time left on the clock as Danilo Gallinari received an inbounds pass and nailed a half-court heave to end the first half.
The Clippers stayed in it, erasing what was an 18-point second-quarter deficit.
However, in the final period, with the game in limbo, Curry knocked down a deep transition 3-pointer to give his team a seven-point advantage with under two minutes to play, providing the necessary separation to exit the arena victorious.
"Our defense was not very good, but our offense allowed us to stay in the game," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. "We had a lot of mix-ups down the stretch."
Curry scored in the last 10 seconds of each of the first three quarters.
The sixth-man specialist wasn't content with being close on the road against the defending champs.
"A loss is a loss, bro," Williams said. "No moral victories over here."