LOS ANGELES – There was not a single second of anything remotely resembling mercy this time.
Still stinging from blowing a 31-point lead in losing Game 2, the Warriors came out for Game 3 Thursday and jumped the Clippers from the opening tip and never let up, sprinting to a 132-105 victory at Staples Center.
Five Warriors scored in double figures, led by Kevin Durant’s 38 points in just under 30 minutes.
The Warriors looked practically invincible from start to finish. Their response to going up 31 in the midway through the third quarter this time was to push the lead to 33 entering the fourth.
Here are three takeaways from the victory that set an NBA record for consecutive playoff series with at least one road win (20) and gives the Warriors a 2-1 series lead:
Durant imposes his will: There was some curiosity about how Kevin Durant would respond after coach Steve Kerr made a plea for more assertive offense. Well, KD went after the Clippers as if they’d violated his status while insulting five generations of family and friends.
He was productive, scoring 38 points – including 27 in 18 sizzling first-half minutes – but also contributing seven assists, four rebounds, one block and a steal. He was plus-32 for the night.
Moreover, Durant consistently showed additional attributes of leadership, such as trying (but failing) to pull Shaun Livingston away from referee Jason Phillips before a technical foul was assessed and celebrating demonstratively with Klay Thompson after Klay threw down a ferocious dunk in the second quarter.
This was the KD the Warriors wanted, and they got him. All of him.
The defense never rested: The Warriors were hyperactive at both ends, but their defense was particularly nasty for the bulk of the game, limiting the Clippers to 35-percent shooting in the first half and 37.2 percent for the game.
Furthermore, through three quarters, the Warriors’ regular rotation harassed LA into 12 turnovers, off which they scored 20 points.
Even as whistles kept coming – 28 fouls against the Warriors, 25 against LA, 53 total – the Warriors maintained their intensity. Chief nemesis Lou Williams, the Game 2 hero with 36 points, managed 16 on 4-of-11 shooting. Another scoring threat, Danilo Gallinari, scored nine on 2-of-13 shooting.
Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green had solid games, but they are not enough to beat the Warriors on any night, certainly not this one.
No gifts this time: The Warriors committed 21 turnovers in Game 1 and vowed to do better in Game 2.
They then went out and delivered 22 gifts to the Clippers. LA scored 49 points off turnovers in the first two games.
The third time evidently is the charm, as prior to a garbage-time fourth quarter, the Warriors committed seven turnovers, off which LA scored seven points. They totaled 12 turnovers in all, giving the Clippers 15 points.
No Warrior committed more turnovers than Durant’s five. Given his comprehensive contributions on this night, he earned a pass.