The Warriors’ Stephen Curry drives past the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard during the second half on Wednesday at Crypto.com Arena. The Clippers won 134-126. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Slipping down a San Francisco baseline past Phoenix’s Chris Paul late Monday, Stephen Curry claimed a basket and the final word.
“This ain’t 2014 no more,” the Golden State star told his longtime combatant as cameras rolled.
Paul later claimed he didn’t know the reference, but on his podcast, Curry’s Warriors teammate Draymond Green explained its latent meaning — that it had been that long since Paul could be considered the better player.
The remark was uttered inside Chase Center. It was felt in the hearts of the Clippers.
Nine years ago, headlined by Paul at point guard, the Clippers were ascendant. Even fallout from former owner Donald Sterling’s suspension on the eve of the postseason was not enough to stop them from winning a first-round series against Curry and Golden State.
But while the Clippers never get over the postseason hump, Golden State has summited the NBA’s mountaintop four times since. The 2014 series against Paul and the Clippers remains the last seven-game series lost by the Warriors to a Western Conference opponent. Even amid a Jekyll and Hyde 2022-23 season in which the Warriors are 29-7 at home and entered Wednesday 7-26 on the road, the Warriors remain the standard against which all West challengers are measured, a video game’s final boss lurking behind Curry’s ever-present potential for an offensive eruption.
If the teams’ meeting Wednesday at Crypto.com Arena represented a psychic test it was also, more importantly, a pragmatic one.
With the teams entering with identical records and the Clippers needing a win to keep alive hopes of claiming a tiebreaker, Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole arrived as the perfect stress test to gauge whether the Clippers, and the improved defense that underpinned their three-game winning streak, were for real.
They answered with a 134-126 victory, a fourth straight win in which Kawhi Leonard and coach Tyronn Lue lauded the team’s composure amid…
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Author : LA Times
Publish date : 2023-03-16 05:11:56
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