Basketball / Sports

Size-challenged Warriors fall to Clippers in a Game 7 thriller

LOS ANGELES -- The Golden State Warriors saw their season end as, in the end, the Los Angeles Clippers exposed their biggest weakness.

Lob City lived up to the billing, with the Clippers using their major advantage inside in crunchtime in Game 7 to claim a 126-121 win against the Warriors on Saturday night to move on to the Western Conference semifinals.

With the injury-plagued Warriors needing a stop late, DeAndre Jordan made an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Blake Griffin to give the Clippers a 120-115 lead with 22.3 seconds left.

It was one of many close-to-the-basket shots the athletic Clippers made with less than two minutes left, breaking through against the Warriors, who played a small lineup by necessity. The No. 6-seeded Warriors were missing injured center Andrew Bogut all series and got only three minutes out of banged-up big man Jermaine O'Neal in Game 7.

Bad breaks or not, the Warriors after a 51-win regular season saw their playoff run end in the first round.

"We left it out on the court tonight and throughout the season," the Warriors' David Lee said.

Stephen Curry scored a game-high 33 points, but the Clippers had too many weapons in a back-and-forth affair befitting of the Warriors' first Game 7 in 37 years.

Griffin finished with 24 points while Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford added 22 apiece. Jordan dominated once again with 15 points and 18 rebounds.

"They got what they wanted out of every possession, which is key in the last five minutes of the game," the Warriors' Andre Iguodala said.

With 1:54 left, Griffin threw down a dunk off a lob from J.J. Redick after Curry had his shot blocked on the other end. With 56 seconds left, Griffin scored on an improbable layup as he was being fouled by Harrison Barnes to give the Clippers a 116-111 lead.

Draymond Green had 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting before fouling out. Klay Thompson scored 15 points, and Iguodala added 14, but it wasn't enough even after Iguodala banked in a 3-pointer to give the Warriors a 107-106 lead.

Jordan threw down a lob to give the Clippers a 108-107 lead.

Paul played through his ailments and did it with distinction, dishing out 14 assists. In the fourth, he hit a 3-pointer, won a jump ball on a bad hamstring and on the other end made a layup to give the Clippers a 103-96 lead.

The Warriors committed 18 turnovers that were turned into 24 points for the Clippers.

Marreese Speights came off the bench to add 10 points with the Warriors needing production in the paint.

Another substitute, Jordan Crawford, got an opportunity to start the fourth quarter on the court and drained a 3-pointer to give Golden State a 92-89 lead. He later had a tip-in to make it 94-91 Warriors.

"Nobody's 100 percent ---- but other guys stepped up," Green said.

The Warriors trailed 87-84 heading into the fourth quarter after the Clippers grabbed control of the game in the third. Griffin, Redick, Paul and Jamal Crawford all had scored in double figures by the end of the quarter.

Redick scored 10 points and hit two 3-pointers in the quarter while Paul was active with eight points on 3-for-3 shooting and five assists in the third. Curry scored six points in the third, but was 1 for 5 from the field.

The Clippers clawed their way back from an eight-point deficit at halftime to take a 75-72 lead in the third after going on a 12-2 run.

The Warriors led 64-56 at halftime after they caught fire from 3-point range and connected on 9 of 13 attempts before heading into the locker room.

Curry hit one with 10.8 seconds left in the second quarter while being fouled by Paul and completed the 4-point play.

The Warriors led by as many as 12 points at the start of the second. What kept the Clippers in the game was nine Warriors turnovers in the first half that led to 13 points.

Jamal Crawford also completed a 4-point play of his own and scored 13 first-half points along with Griffin.

The Warriors led 32-22 after the first quarter, with Green scoring 10 of his points and hitting two 3-pointers. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting.

(c)2014 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

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