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.