Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant (35) reaches for a pass under pressure by the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (6) and Los Angeles Clippers’ Jamal Crawford (11) during the second quarter of their NBA game at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
OAKLAND — The Warriors, either rusty or still slumbering from an extended All-Star break, stumbled into a double-digit halftime hole on Thursday night. The Clippers, so uncompetitive in this matchup recently, were the energized aggressors.
But then, early in the third quarter, Draymond Green erupted after a foul, yelling at the referee and then Steve Kerr, charging up both the arena and the team. The Warriors, as unconventional as it may have been, suddenly had life.
And, with it, they delivered to the Clippers a familiar blowout feeling: a 123-113 final, boosted by an amazing 50-point third quarter after the Green tirade. It was the Clippers’ 10th straight loss to the Warriors.
With 8:11 left in the third quarter, the Clippers led 66-61. In transition, Blake Griffin crashed into Green. The two went tumbling. Green was called for the foul. After seeing the ruling, he bounced up, screamed in the direction of official Scott Foster — a past Warrior nemesis — and was drilled with the technical.
It didn’t calm Green down. So Kevin Durant and the Warriors tried to play peacemaker, holding Green back and subbing him out of the game. But Green just became increasingly agitated, yelling at Kerr as assistant Mike Brown pulled him away and planted him with enforcer David West at the end of the bench.
But just as West was trying to calm a stewing Green, the ball was put back in play and Durant nailed a 3. Green turned that fuming anger toward wild celebration, shouting and yelling toward Durant.
The Warriors suddenly had a bounce. They got a defensive stop, pushed it upcourt and Durant stepped into another 3. Swish. The bench players, so fired up by the sequence, spilled so far onto the court in celebration that Foster hit them with a technical foul. It gave the Clippers an extra point, but didn’t stop the momentum.
Durant led off the scoring barrage, backing up a sequence of three straight 3s with a powerful drive and soaring dunk. In the first eight minutes of the third quarter, he had 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting.
Durant then turned the baton over to Curry, who happily delivered the Clippers dagger after dagger through the heart.
With 3:36 left in the third quarter, Curry hit a 23-footer. With 3:06 left, he nailed a 25-footer. Six points in 30 seconds. He’d found a rhythm. Curry followed a layup with a drive and two free throws. Four points in 33 seconds.
Then he followed that on the next possession with a deep 3 from the left wing, plus the foul on Raymond Felton. Four points on one play, giving the Warriors a ridiculous 47 points in the third quarter.
But he wasn’t done. Curry closed the quarter with a deep buzzer-beating 3 from the right wing. It gave him 17 points in the final 3:36 of the third quarter and it bumped Golden State to 50 points in one quarter (they only had 49 in the first half). It was the fourth 50-point quarter in the franchise’s history and the first in the NBA since the Lakers in 2017.
Durant and Curry combined for 35 of those 50 points, making 12 of their 16 shots and nine of their 12 threes.
This season, the Warriors have commonly dominated the third quarter. Thursday was the most extreme example. After beating the Clippers 50-25 in the frame — turning a 12-point deficit into a 13-point lead — they have now outscored opponents by 351 points in the third quarter this season. The Spurs are the next closest at plus-177.
And, of course, the Clippers were the sad victims. Much of the past few weeks, with three impending games against the Warriors, they’ve talked about trying to knock the Warriors off at least once to gain some confidence. They couldn’t.
The Clippers will close the season 0-4 against the Warriors this season — with losses of 17, 46, 13 and 10 — and 0-10 in their last 10 games.