Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. We bring you tonight’s Three Things straight from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
1) Warriors snap out of their malaise to throttle Clippers. Surprisingly, the Los Angeles Clippers came into Monday night’s game with best defense in the NBA, having only given up 92.8 points per 100 possessions, and allowing a true shooting percentage of 53.9 against them. With DeAndre Jordan anchoring the paint, and Patrick Beverley and Austin Rivers on the perimeter, the Clippers were forcing teams into midrange shots, protecting the rim, and just getting stops.
Then the Warriors came to town.
Golden State snapped out of its early-season funk (starting 4-3) just in time to drop 74 points on Los Angeles in the first half, shooting 60.5 percent overall. Stephen Curry hit threes — 7-of-11 for the game — but it was him, Draymond Green, and the rest of the Warriors getting shots at the rim at will that was the difference. Golden State turned the fourth quarter into garbage time and won 141-113. Curry had 31 points to lead the way, while Kevin Durant had 19, and Green had 16 while shutting down Blake Griffin on the other end, blowing up the Clipper attack.
“We gave up too many easy baskets,” Griffin said after the loss. “They ran their offense and got open shots and layups. They pushed in transition, I think the transition points at halftime were 18-4, which is never a good.”
The Warriors had twice as many transition possessions as the Clippers for the game.
“Defensively, I thought our offense deflated us in some ways and offensively, they had a field day,” Clippers coach Doc River said postgame. “They moved the ball wherever they wanted.”
What shook Golden State out of its funk? The Warriors always get up for the Clippers, and even with Chris Paul gone that didn’t change. Also, the Warriors may have played their worst game of the season the night before against Detroit and are a proud team not about to repeat that disaster.
What we learned in this game is there is a massive the gap between Golden State and Los Angeles when the Warriors are at their peak. Then again, if the Warriors are out of their funk there’s a a gap between them and everybody.
“I don’t think we are better at all right now,” Green said comparing last year’s title team to the current Warriors. “We have a long ways to go…. Do I think we have the potential to be better? Absolutely. I think we have a lot more depth, a lot of guys have gotten better individually, we are more familiar with each other, but we are nowhere near where we are going to have to be or where we can be. It’s a long road.”
2) Not having Kawhi Leonard caching up with Spurs, team drops third straight. When the Spurs started the season 4-0, and the only time we saw Kawhi Leonard was him struggling to board a plane, it was fashionable to say “well, that’s the Spurs.” LaMarcus Aldridge stepped up, Dejounte Murray looked like a find, and everything Gregg Popovich touched turned to gold.
However, a 108-94 loss to Boston Monday night was San Antonio’s third in a row, and it reminded everyone much the Spurs miss their MVP candidate. They needed his defense on the Celtics’ star, Kyrie Irving, who was aggressive from the opening tip and finished with 24 points and six dimes to lead the Celtics to their fifth straight win. The Spurs also missed Leonard’s shot creation.
To be fair, the Spurs looked tired, like they were on the final game of a road trip — which they were. Aldridge didn’t score at least 20 points for the first time in six games, and Murray had as many turnovers as assists. Now the Spurs are home for 8 of their next 10, and expect them to pick up some more wins and keep their head above water until Leonard can return.
3) Kristaps Porzingis fully unleashed on Nuggets, scores career-high 38. I’m not the biggest fan of the nickname “The Unicorn” for Kristaps Porzingis. I get why it came about, but a mythical creature idolized by 5-year-old girls is not the most intimidating of creatures.
Whatever Porzingis’ spirit animal is, it was fully unleashed on Monday night as he dropped a career-high 38 points on the Denver Nuggets, taking advantage of a porous defense to shoot 14-of-26 overall and 4-of-7 from three. He scored from everywhere, see for yourself.