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Clippers hold off Warriors despite Steph Curry’s 50-point night

LOS ANGELES — A day earlier, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue focused practice on shoring up his team’s transition defense. With Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors coming to Arena on Wednesday night, Lue wasn’t taking any chances on slipping up against one of the quickest teams in the league.

“With this team, we got to get back in transition. We got to take care of the basketball, we can’t relax on defense with Klay (Thompson) and Steph in their movement,” Lue said. “Then we got to take care of the basketball offensively.

“If we do those three things, I think that we’ll be in great shape.”

By the end of a sometimes tempestuous and 3-point free-for-all game, Lue was able to check off those boxes and the Clippers came away with a 134-126 victory over the Warriors despite a 50-point night from Curry.

None of it was easy, though. The Clippers (37-33) withstood several challenges from the Warriors, who were without four key players – Andrew Wiggins, Gary Payton II, Ryan Rollins and Andre Iguodala – and playing on the road, where they have been dismal this season.

Then Kawhi Leonard (30 points) and Curry got into a mini 3-point shooting contest in the fourth quarter that led to the Warriors trimming a 12-point deficit to seven (118-111) with 5:33 left.

The Clippers, however, didn’t let the Warriors’ 3-point reputation get to them, securing, for now, fifth place in the tightly packed, ever-shifting Western Conference standings. The Clippers and Warriors (36-34) came into the game tied for fifth with identical records.

The teams combined for 33 baskets from behind the arc, with the Clippers going 16 for 34, while the Warriors were 17 for 36.

Leonard scored nine of his 30 points on long-range shots – and had eight rebounds and five assists. But he was outdone by Curry, who shot 20 for 28 overall and 8 for 14 from distance for the 12th 50-point game of his career.

Lue said that while their defense on Curry wasn’t great (he had 21 points in the third), he thought the Clippers’ execution on offense carried them to their fourth consecutive victory.

“We didn’t get stagnant, had 30 assists and then we only had one turnover in the second half,” Lue said. “Six turnovers for the game for us is huge.”

Lue said for years the Warriors have been known for their 3-point shooting. “They get all the talk,” he said.

He acknowledged that Curry and Klay Thompson (15 points) have changed the game with their pinpoint accuracy from long range, but there’s more to their game with a strong ability to score in the paint, backdoor plays and midrange pull-up shots. All of which were on display Wednesday.

Each time the Clippers grabbed the momentum and built what seemed to be a comfortable lead, the Warriors came back. In the third quarter, the Clippers watched a 10-point lead disappear in a barrage of 3-pointers and layups from Curry.

“Golden State is going to make big runs,” Leonard said. “(They have) great players, great mindsets on the floor. So, when they came down, Steph or Klay coming down and knocking those big shots – 3’s – two or three in a row, we kept our composure. We stayed steady and came down and executed on the offensive end and made shots and we were able to go on a run ourselves.

“It was kind of like that throughout the game.”

They led 94-88 with 1:36 left in the quarter on a 3-pointer by Eric Gordon (16 points, four rebounds) only to watch the Warriors come back again. They managed to hold onto a 99-93 lead heading into the fourth.

“I just think we just matched the energy,” said Clippers All-Star Paul George, who had 24 points and seven assists and made four 3-pointers of his own. “It’s tough because he (Curry) makes dagger shots. They’re like haymakers. But I thought we did a good job of not being the team that goes slow to inbound it, walking the ball up. Just let that moment sink in.”

“You’re so locked in into focusing on their two great 3-point shooters that now you’re trying to take ’em off the line and now you give up a lot of paint points. And so, that’s what people don’t understand about Golden State.”

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