What We Learned When Dubs Clips Gasped Throttle In Big Win In The Third Quarter Originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — There is perhaps no better measure of an NBA team’s legitimacy as a title contender than how it performs in a season-ending home game against an opponent facing the same test.
Passing rainbow colors on Thursday night, the Warriors posted a 115-91 defeat of a Los Angeles Clippers team entering the game a fraction of a percentage point behind them in the Western Conference standings.
Golden State’s fourth straight win gives it three games over .500 for the first time this season.
Jordan Poole scored 34 points to lead the Warriors, while Klay Thompson contributed 19 points and a season-high 11 rebounds.
With Stephen Curry returning in a few days and perhaps Andrew Wiggins soon after, the Warriors are definitely on their way to legitimate contender status.
Here are three observations from a game that, taken all together, is one of the most impressive of the season:
Another crucial third quarter
The Warriors spent most of the first half on the ropes, limited by a long and active LA defense to 33.3 percent shooting from the field, with 13.6 percent shooting from distance.
Then came the third quarter. The script is reversed. The Warriors pulled their own defenses from the basement and used them to launch their attack. For the second consecutive game, it turned the game around in their favor.
Golden State held the Clippers, who scored 55 points while shooting 50 percent in the first half, to a ridiculously low 18.2 percent (4 of 22) in the third quarter. LA was so confused that even open shots were bricks.
The Warriors forced seven turnovers on which they scored 12 points. They posted a resounding 42-16 victory in the quarter while shooting 52 percent, including 50 percent from deep.
After a relatively mundane first half, with nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, including 0-of-3 from outside the arc, Poole fizzled in the third quarter.
Sizzled may be an understatement, as he scored 22 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-8 from deep and 8-of-8 from the line – all in less than 10 minutes. The Clippers were cooked.
Much of the damage JP inflicted on LA came in transition, taking advantage of excellent team defense and forced turnovers and turning them into a bucket-boozing sellout crowd.
Poole’s 34 points came 9-of-20 from the field, including 5-of-12 from distance and 11-of-12 from the line.
JP was very good in the victory over Portland on Tuesday. This time he was even better.
Comebacks “R” Us
While the Warriors spent a lot of energy talking about the need for better defense, the Clippers walked into their home and immediately gave a tutorial. LA’s defense in the first half was spectacular.
The Warriors took those lessons and left them to the Clippers in the second half. Without mercy.
Trailing by double digits at the half, the Warriors pulled out an astonishing 70-36 lead in the second half – as their defense arrived to save them from themselves. LA shot 22.2 percent from the field after the break, of which 13.6 percent from distance.
This is the second straight game in which the Warriors wiped out a double-digit lead to win by double digits. The Clippers suffered the same fate as the Trail Blazers two nights earlier.
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The Warriors don’t want to make a habit of this, but comebacks are good for a team’s confidence, something they’ll need over time.
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