Draymond Green-less Warriors face streaking Clippers

Dec 14, 2023, 6:44 AM | Updated: 8:31 am

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball defended by Paul George #13 of the ...

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 02: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball defended by Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers in the fourth quarter at Arena on December 02, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

(Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Already struggling to consistently put together victories over the past five weeks, the Golden State Warriors now have another issue on their hands as they visit the surging Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.

Warriors forward Draymond Green has been suspended indefinitely after his third ejection of the season Tuesday when he connected on a blow to the side of the head of the Phoenix Suns’ Jusuf Nurkic.

Without Green for much of the second half, the Warriors remained close down the stretch before falling 119-116 against the Suns. It was Golden State’s 11th loss in their past 15 games, going back to Nov. 8.

Also included in that stretch was a five-game suspension for Green for putting the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Rudy Gobert in a headlock during an on-court confrontation.

“We need everybody available; that’s how we’re built,” said Warriors star Stephen Curry, who had a team-high 24 points against the Suns. “It’s no secret to our success.”

With Green out, the Warriors’ bench delivered 80 points, an NBA season high for any reserve unit this season. Five bench players reached double figures in scoring, led by Brandin Podziemski, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Chris Paul had 15 points and 11 assists.

“It’s the same conversations we’ve had before. We have to make the necessary adjustments,” Curry said. “It’s frustrating that we’re not playing the way we want to but you like the (bench) guys playing with confidence coming in because it’s a full team effort.”

The Clippers could also be without a key piece after Paul George did not play in the second half of Tuesday’s 119-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings because of a sore left groin.

Los Angeles is on a season-best five-game winning streak and has won 10 of its last 13 games as the addition of James Harden is proving wildly successful. It is a far different turn of events for the Clippers, who lost their first five games after Harden arrived in a trade last month.

Kawhi Leonard has been the primary focus of the offense, scoring 31 points against the Kings, with an average of 35.3 points over the last three games. Harden scored 15 points on just nine shots as a 33-point second-half lead allowed the Los Angeles bench to play most of the fourth quarter.

On defense, the Clippers held an opponent under 100 points for the fourth time and the second time in the past nine games.

“(It’s) all of us combining on the defensive end and wanting to get things going on that end first,” Leonard said about the team’s success of late. “Let the offense take care of itself. … Knowing every night isn’t the same, one night might be your night, and the next night it might be somebody else’s.”

The Clippers and Warriors just played a back-to-back set of games two weeks ago, with Golden State earning a 120-114 victory at home Nov. 30 and Los Angeles exacting a measure of revenge with a 113-112 home victory two days later.

George gave the Clippers their Dec. 2 victory on a 3-pointer with 9.2 seconds remaining for Los Angeles’ first lead of the game. That comeback victory started the Clippers’ current winning streak.

–Field Level Media

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