Los Angeles Clippers: Mark Jackson

Clippers-Warriors: A retrospective

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
LOS ANGELES -- As is the case with most feuds, the participants have a hard time remembering exactly why they don't like each other, except for the fact that they, well, don't like each other.

Trying to stroll down memory lane in search of an exact reason or incident seems inconsequential.

[+] EnlargeClippers vs. Warriors
Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY SportsThe Clippers and Warriors admit they really don't like each other, and it seemed to come to a head on Christmas Day this season.
For the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, the genesis of their feud is no longer important to them. But it might help others to explain why these two star-crossed franchises, which have never met in the postseason before Saturday, dislike each other so much.

"You would have thought they won the NBA Finals"

All good rivalries need a good instigator and the light that lit the flame on the Clippers-Warriors rivalry was the Warriors' bench, led by Kent Bazemore during the 2012-13 season.

Mark Jackson, who was then in his second year as the Warriors' coach, wanted his bench to get more involved games. He wanted them to celebrate after every big play and be totally into the game. No one took this more than Bazemore, who was an undrafted rookie out of Old Dominion. His over-the-top celebrations on the sideline became so legendary that it earned a nickname: "Bazemoring."

The birth of "Bazemoring" coincided with the birth of the Clippers-Warriors rivalry. When the two teams met in 2012-13 in the third game of the season, the Clippers had just come off of back-to-back wins against the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers. A win over the Warriors, a team that had won 23 games the previous season seemed like an afterthought. Before the game, Clippers players were already talking about a postgame party in Hollywood to commemorate the launch of Chris Paul's new shoe.

Not only would the Warriors go on to win the game 114-110 and serve notice they were legitimate contenders now, their bench celebrated every big play just a little bit more than usual. When Steph Curry took a charge from Paul to seal the win with 7.5 seconds left, the Warriors bench went crazy and a rivalry was officially born.

"You would have thought they won the NBA Finals," Paul would later say.

That was just the beginning of the rivalry and the Clippers' growing dislike for the Warriors.

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Clippers control the division but want more

January, 5, 2013
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers franchise has never won anything.

This is not a shocking revelation, but it makes their place in the standings, and specifically in the Pacific Division, that much more significant at the moment.

After the Clippers’ 115-89 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday and their 107-102 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, the Clippers have a four-game lead on the Warriors and a 10.5-game lead on the Lakers in the Pacific Division. Their 27-8 record is the best in the NBA.

Of course, there is still plenty of basketball left to be played. But for a team that has never finished higher than second in the division or third in the conference or won more than 49 games in a season, these are unprecedented times in Lob City.

In some ways, given their past two opponents, the Clippers' two-game winning streak is more significant than their 17-game streak that was recently snapped. This was the Clippers’ opportunity to establish themselves as the team to beat in the Pacific by vanquishing the Lakers and the Warriors ... and they did just that in impressive fashion.

But don’t look for the Clippers to be patting themselves on the back for taking control of the division and having the best record in the league 35 games into the season. Despite being in uncharted territory, the Clippers are not planning on wearing division championship hats or raising a division championship banner at the end of the season.

They have bigger goals than that. These wins might widen the gap between them and their division rivals, but the Clippers view them more as wins that will help them with their seeding come playoff time.

“These are very key games,” said Chris Paul, who had 27 points, nine assists and five rebounds Saturday. “Because when it comes down to the last week of the season and you see who is winning and losing, it plays a huge part.”

As Blake Griffin stood in the locker room Saturday night, he didn’t flinch when asked about the significance of Saturday’s win after two previous losses to the Warriors.

“It was a business win for us,” Griffin said. “This is how we've won a lot of games. We wanted to take care of it early and we did.

“We’re just looking for wins. If they come within the division, then that’s whatever. It’s great to be able to win your division at the end of the year and all that, I guess, but it’s important for us to take care of business during the year.”

Griffin’s blasÚ attitude toward winning the division and the Clippers’ hot start is a product of being in a locker room with Chauncey Billups, Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Ronny Turiaf, who have won championships and know that division titles and regular-season records don’t mean much in the offseason if you lose in the second round.

Paul doesn’t need anyone to tell him that. He already experienced that in 2008, when he was on the New Orleans Hornets team that went 56-26, won the Southwest Division and was the second seed in the West, only to get bounced in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs.

That was the best team Paul had ever played on before this season, and he often reminds his teammates to remember their ultimate goal. And like all great players, he has a long memory when he feels he or his team has been disrespected, and he certainly felt the Clippers were in the previous two losses against Golden State.

“They beat us twice,” Paul said. “The first time they beat us here, you would have thought they won the NBA Finals. And then they beat us up there pretty handily. We knew we wanted to protect our home court. You always remember those types of things.”

The Clippers went up by as many as 39 points in the second half, highlighted by three consecutive lob dunks to DeAndre Jordan, which prompted Warriors coach Mark Jackson to call a timeout and glare at the Clippers' bench for a good 20 seconds.

“What you’ve got to do as a player or coach, soak it in and remember it. Mark it down with permanent ink,” Jackson said. “Nothing upset me. They earned the right to celebrate with the way they played. It was just a good, old-fashioned, heavyweight championship stare-down, that’s all.”

And like all good championship fights, the Clippers know stare-downs don’t really mean too much as long as you can deliver the knockout punch in the end.



Blake Griffin
22.5 4.3 0.7 34.5
ReboundsD. Jordan 12.6
AssistsC. Paul 9.7
StealsC. Paul 1.8
BlocksD. Jordan 2.5