Clippers search for better defense in rematch with Warriors

Dec 1, 2023, 4:30 PM

James Harden #1 of the LA Clippers at Crypto.com Arena on November 27, 2023 in Los Angeles, Califor...

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 27: James Harden #1 of the LA Clippers at Crypto.com Arena on November 27, 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

When the Clippers and Golden State Warriors met on Thursday, Los Angeles had no answer for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson down the stretch.

The Clippers were within seven early in the fourth quarter before Curry and Thompson took over, combining for 21 points over the final 9:53 to lead Golden State to a 120-114 victory.

Los Angeles will attempt to prevent the star duo from taking over again when it hosts the Warriors in a Saturday afternoon rematch between the teams.

Curry finished with a game-high 26 points to go along with seven rebounds and eight assists on Thursday. Thompson added 22 points, while Jonathan Kuminga supplied 17 off the bench.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr thinks Thursday’s performance is going to provide some much-needed confidence for Thompson, who was 4-for-13 from the field before netting 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter.

“It felt like the game rewarded him for just continuing to fight and not worrying about anything. He kept shooting and the ball kind of bounced his way,” Kerr said of Thompson. “That’s the Klay that I expect really the rest of the year.”

Thompson finding his stroke couldn’t have come at a better time with the Warriors hampered by injuries to Chris Paul (left leg nerve contusion), Andrew Wiggins (finger soreness) and Gary Payton II (right calf strain).

All three missed the first meeting with the Clippers, and Paul and Payton are expected to be out again on Saturday. Wiggins’ status has not been determined after he smashed his right index finger Thursday in a car door.

The Clippers find themselves dealing with a touch of adversity, too, but it isn’t injury-related. Saturday’s contest will be Los Angeles’ sixth game in nine days, and the tumultuous stretch has started to take a toll on Los Angeles’ defense.

After a strong showing in a 107-88 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 25, the Clippers have slowly become more porous, surrendering 113 points to the Denver Nuggets on Monday and 117 to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday before Golden State poured in 120.

“I think if we can keep teams in halfcourt sets, not give them easy baskets and rebound the ball, I think those are the two areas that we’re struggling in, especially in losses,” Los Angeles forward Paul George said. “In wins, you know, it’s glaring that we took care of those two. And in losses, you know, we’ve struggled.”

Despite the recent struggles, the Clippers were still able to go 5-3 to close November after opening the month with a six-game losing streak.

“I feel like we’re starting to get a little flow going,” Los Angeles forward Kawhi Leonard said. “Still need to improve on the defensive end. … Lot of easy layups for (the Warriors on Thursday), open 3s.”

Leonard had a team-high 23 points along with seven rebounds on Thursday. Ivica Zubac (18 points, 13 rebounds) and George (15 points, 10 assists) recorded double-doubles, while James Harden chipped in 18 points and seven assists.

The Warriors and Clippers have split their past four meetings dating back to February of last season.

–Field Level Media

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