That was playoff basketball.
Two teams with high-flying explosive offenses get sucked into grinding it out, with neither team shooting better than 40 percent for the game. Guys fouled out (or in the case of Jermaine O’Neal got injured) and other guys stepped up (hello Marreese Speights). Stars struggled, role players found a way (Matt Barnes).
In the fourth quarter the Warriors had a little more — they shot 52 percent overall for the final 12 minutes, they had balance while the Clippers leaned on Jamal Crawford to create and score (he had 11 in the quarter) and with that the Warriors won 100-99.
That sets up a Game 7 showdown Saturday night in Los Angeles.
This game started out looking like Game 5, the Clippers were led defensively by DeAndre Jordan who was blocking shots, the Clippers getting points in transition and they raced out to a 16-7 lead early. The Warriors opened the game shooting 2-of-9 from the floor.
Then, in what would be a pattern for the rest of the night, the team that was behind made a run of their own and kept it close. In this case it was a more active Warriors defense (they aggressively doubled Blake Griffin when he caught the ball), it worked to the point that by a few minutes into the second quarter the Warriors were on top.
Then the Clippers made a run. And so it went all night.
It was not a good night for the stars of either side. Blake Griffin was 8-of-24 shooting for 17 points. Chris Paul was 3-of-10. Likely Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford was 5-of-13. Stephen Curry was 9-of-24 for 24 points. Klay Thompson 3-of-11.
Combine that with foul trouble — Griffin, Redick and David Lee all fouled out, plenty of others were in foul trouble — and you ended up with the kind of game where twice in a row in the fourth quarter Golden State’s offense was a Jordan Crawford isolation.
Where Golden State earned the win was the effort plays. For example, the Warriors had 14 offensive rebounds in the first half — they didn’t shoot well but they got a second shot opportunity on 40 percent of their misses that half. After the game Clippers coach Doc Rivers talked about the Warriors winning the 50/50 balls all night.
Doc also wasn’t getting enough out of Jordan and Blake to punish Golden State for going small, so he went small to match, employing a lot of three-guard lineups.
It almost worked. But in the end the Warriors hit a few more key threes while the Clippers struggled to get into an offensive set that got them good looks. Throw in an Andre Iguodala four-point play in the fourth and you get a one-point Warriors win.
The Clippers will play better at home Sunday night, they should be the favorites. However, any team with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can simply have nights where they go into video game mode and can’t miss, nights where they will win no matter what. Do that and Doc Rivers will have a lot of basketball questions to answer.