SAN FRANCISCO (AP)Even with starters Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins still on the sidelines, the Golden State Warriors are suddenly looking like a serious contender again.
No matter how far they might fall behind.
Jordan Poole scored 34 points, Klay Thompson had 19 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, and the defending champions used another big second-half surge to rally past the Los Angeles Clippers 115-91 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.
“I just feel there’s a grit that comes with defense that allows you to shake it off and keep playing,” coach Steve Kerr said of his team’s comebacks.
Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points and hit from deep to beat the buzzer that ended the second quarter, putting the cold-shooting Clippers ahead 56-45 at halftime.
Then the Warriors came charging back with a 42-point third quarter while holding the Clippers to 16 points in the period to lead 87-72 heading into the final 12 minutes. Golden State did the same thing with a comeback win against Portland on Tuesday night.
“They got up 11, but we were still right there because we were defending and taking care of the ball,” Draymond Green said. “To have those couple third quarters like we’ve had the last two games gives you something to build upon, you feel good about yourself and also understand what it takes coming out of the half.”
Green added 11 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in a physical battle all game between rivals fighting for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. Donte DiVincenzo struggled with his shot, going 2 for 10, but grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds.
Mason Plumlee had a season-best 20 rebounds and his 14 in the initial two quarters were the most of his career in any half. Eric Gordon made his first start in six games since joining the Clippers in a trade from Houston and scored 16 points in the team’s fourth straight defeat and sixth in eight.
Los Angeles finished just 9 of 43 on 3-pointers – missing 18 of 19 to begin the second half.
Gordon was 2 for 10 on 3s and Russell Westbrook missed all five of his tries while going 3 for 12 from the floor overall to score eight points with the Warriors sagging off him.
Green is certain it made Leonard think and Golden State’s defense keyed another win.
“We’re finding a really good space right now,” Poole said, “we’ve just got to keep it going.”
Curry could return as soon as Sunday after scrimmaging for a third straight day.
“He’s getting close,” Kerr said.
Curry missed his 10th straight game with a left leg injury after getting hurt against Dallas on Feb. 4. Kerr credited the reigning NBA Finals MVP for his energy rehabbing the latest injury.
“He’s been working really hard. I think within days of the injury, he was on the bike and it was impressive just watching him on the bike, I mean, how hard he goes,” Kerr said. “He’s really amazing when it comes to his conditioning level and his commitment to keeping it high.”
Clippers: Coach Tyronn Lue and Los Angeles came in with a game plan to get back in transition and limit turnovers – and the Clippers committed 16 that led to 29 Golden State points. … Marcus Morris Sr. (left elbow contusion) and Ivica Zubac (right calf soreness) sat out after coming into the game listed as questionable on the injury report. … Whether Leonard and George play Friday’s back-to-back was to be determined after the game. The Clippers have lost the last three and 8 of 11 in the second game while playing consecutive nights. … Of Westbrook’s addition, Lue said, “It’s going to take a little time just adjusting to playing a certain style of basketball.”
Warriors: The Warriors won their in their fifth consecutive at home vs. the Clippers. … F Andrew Wiggins sat out a sixth consecutive game while dealing with a family matter. … Golden State signed G Lester Quinones to a 10-day contract and assigned him to G League Santa Cruz.
Clippers: Visit Sacramento on Friday night for a road-road back-to-back.
Warriors: Host the Pelicans on Friday night to complete the home-home back-to-back.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports