Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five

Clippers play like a team unburdened, take 3-2 series lead with win over Warriors

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In Game 4 the Clippers were clearly distracted. They looked drained.

In Game 5 Tuesday night they played like a team unchained.

With a bounce back in their step and a supportive home crowd giving them a standing ovation when they ran out for warm ups in the wake of the fiasco with owner Donald Sterling, the Clippers played with a renewed energy. That meant they raced out to an early lead, that the Clipper front line finally dominated the undersized Warriors up front, and when they needed an answer they had for all the Warriors runs to challenge.

The result was a 113-103 Clippers win and Los Angeles now leads the series 3-2. Game 6 is Thursday night in Golden State.

DeAndre Jordan finally made the Warriors pay for going small — Jordan had 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting, pulled won 18 rebounds blocked four shots, and when the Warriors tried to go to “hack-the-DJ” (sung to The Smith’s “Panic”) he knocked down his shots and they had to go away from it.

Chris Paul added 20 points and 7 assists, Blake Griffin had 18 points (included some ridiculous fade-away jumpers).

The focused Clippers were also back to the “don’t let Stephen Curry” beat us mode that served them well in the early games of the series — defenders forced him to give up the ball and Curry finished with 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting. The Warriors responded with balance — Klay Thompson had 20 points, David Lee and Andre Iguodala each had 18.

Early in the game the Clippers rode the wave of emotion from a great crowd to an 11 point lead, then for the rest of the game it seemed like the Warriors would make a little run and the Clippers would answer.

One of those third quarter runs actually got the Warriors a one-point lead. But this was going to be the Clippers’ night. Los Angeles made a 12-6 run late in the third to take a comfortable lead and Golden State never got within three the rest of the way.

All this sets up what should be a fascinating Game 6 Thursday night. About all we can predict out of this series is Donald Sterling will not be in attendance.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.