Clippers overcome ejection and absences to defeat Warriors

© John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Without Kawhi Leonard, Clippers rally late to stun Warriors before all-star break

SAN FRANCISCO – The Clippers head into the all-star break on a high note, with another notable comeback win against the Warriors in San Francisco. After what looked to be the Clippers second loss in three games, Norman Powell and James Harden rallied the group together shortly following Ty Lue’s ejection to steal a win against a very hot Warriors squad.

The Clippers are now 36-17 and are the 3rd seed in the Western Conference.

Here are my three takeaways:

Kawhi Leonard was out for the game against Golden State, and usually teams that are undermanned against the Warriors don’t do very well. Steph Curry had the team rolling, winning their last five games in a row and looking like they were about to turn a corner in the season. 

For about 3 quarters, that trend looked like it was about to continue. Turnovers, bad bounces, and blown defensive assignments by the Clippers had the Warriors up by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter. Ty Lue got ejected, Paul George fouled out, and then the Clippers found their spark. Norman Powell, who has been a three point sharpshooter and very good in fourth quarters, took over again. He did not miss from three and brought the Clippers all the way back to lead late. 

Amir Coffey hit a big three late, filling in for the fouled out Paul George, Russell Westbrook had some gritty rebounds and scores on second chances, and James Harden put on a masterclass as the lone star left. The Clippers get these performances in a lot of their wins, but it just shows their grit and determination this year. 

In the last eleven games, James Harden has been as good as he has looked all season. In around 36 minutes per game, he is averaging 20.6 PPG, 8.5 APG, and 6.8 RPG, all while shooting at 45/46/84 splits. Not to mention, his defense has been stellar as well, averaging 2.2 Stocks (Steals + Blocks) per game. 

In games like on Wednesday against the Warriors, it shows why the Clippers acquired Harden all the way back in November. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were both out of the game, and Harden still had the ability to lead the team to a victory with high level scoring, rebounding, and passing. He has completely transformed the offense, not only with everyone healthy and playing, but even when players need rest or foul out. 

I think we all know how great the Clippers have been since the end of November, but it feels like they are literally setting franchise records every night they play. They only have 17 losses before the all-star break, which is a franchise record, and are 28-7 since December 1st, which is the best record in the NBA since then.They did hold the first seed for about 24 hours last week, but even with a little bit of a rocky past week, they are only 1.5 games back of the first seed in the Western Conference. 

This Clipper team has a different feel than in years past around this time, with a different mentality, mindset, and focus that I have never seen from them in my history following them. They now take their most talented team in franchise history into a much needed all-star break, and look to make even more history in the stretch run and into the playoffs.