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Clippers take series lead

Posted: April 24, 2014 11:10 p.m.
Updated: April 24, 2014 11:10 p.m.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) defends on Thursday in Oakland.

 

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Blake Griffin scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds, DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 22 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the Golden State Warriors 98-96 on Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.

The frontcourt tandem bullied and bruised the Warriors inside to power the Clippers ahead by 18 points in the third quarter. And they did just enough late to silence a rocking, gold-shirt wearing sellout crowd of 19,596 to regain home-court advantage.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points, and Stephen Curry had 16 points and 15 assists to rally the Warriors back. But Curry forced a contested, step-back 3-pointer over Chris Paul in the final seconds to seal the Clippers' victory.

Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday in Oakland.

The Clippers held the Warriors to 6-of-31 shooting from 3-point range and 41.6 percent shooting overall. Los Angeles also forced 17 turnovers.

Golden State's streaky backcourt duo still gave the Clippers quite a scare in the closing moments.

Curry made his first 3-pointer, and Thompson made another from long range before hitting a turnaround jumper to bring the Warriors within 87-86 with 4:24 to play.

Paul capped a quick 7-0 spurt for the Clippers with a deep 3-pointer. He pounded his chest and skipped down court after Warriors coach Mark Jackson called timeout.

Thompson hit a jumper and Curry connected from beyond the arc to trim Los Angeles' lead to 96-93 with 49 seconds left. But reserve Draymond Green fouled out when officials called him for a block against Griffin, who made 1 of 2 free throws.

Curry hit another 3-pointer with 11 seconds left. Paul missed 1 of 2 free throws, giving Golden State the ball with 8.6 seconds remaining.

Jordan intentionally fouled Curry off the inbound to make Golden State inbound the ball again. And the Warriors ran the same play to Curry, whose 3-pointer sailed short.

Jordan grabbed the rebound, and tossed it out to Paul as time expired.

The victory was another big step for the third-seeded Clippers after they lost homecourt advantage by losing Game 1 in Los Angeles. They regrouped to rout Golden State 138-98 in Game 2 in Los Angeles on Monday night.

But they still had to win on the road and at Oracle Arena — both of which had been tough obstacles to overcome.

The Clippers had lost 15 of their previous 17 games in Oakland, including five in a row. Los Angeles also had lost five consecutive road playoff games.

With the amped-up fans screaming at full throat, the teams returned to the fast and physical style that had been the theme in their regular-season meetings.

Officials called a flagrant foul on Clippers forward Matt Barnes for shoving Andre Iguodala to the floor by the back of his head as the two jostled for position under the basket in the first quarter. A few possessions later, David Lee leveled Paul to the ground on a blind-side screen.

All the while, Griffin and Jordan just dominated the paint against an undersized Warriors team playing without center Andrew Bogut, who is out indefinitely with a fractured right rib. The Clippers also kept trapping and double-teaming Curry, forcing him to pass or attempt difficult shots on the perimeter.

Tensions started to escalate again when Warriors reserve Green swung his arm and fouled Griffin under the basket, drawing a flagrant foul. Fans serenaded Griffin with chants of "Flopp-er! Flopp-er!"

Green sparked a brief scoring surge with a driving dunk and a 3-pointer to bring the Warriors within eight. But Jamal Crawford quieted the crowd once more with three straight jumpers, sending the Clippers to the fourth quarter with a 75-64 lead — providing just enough separation to hold off the Warriors' final rally.

NOTES: The Clippers had not won at Golden State since Dec. 25, 2011. ... The last time the Warriors won a playoff series when they lost a home game was in 1977 to Detroit. ... Former San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson were among those in attendance

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