Clippers Lose to Rockets, Warriors Gain Ground with Win Over Portland

The Pacific Division in the NBA’s Western Conference is getting tight; on Saturday, the second-place Golden State Warriors defeated the Portland Trail Blazers while the first-place Los Angeles Clippers lost to the Houston Rockets. The Warriors are now seven games back in the division, and while they may not catch the Clippers, they’re surging at the right time and putting pressure on their divisional foes. The Clippers are currently the fourth seed in the West, a slight half-game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies. The Warriors are sitting pretty in the sixth spot, and won’t catch Memphis, though they need to put some ground between themselves and the Houston Rockets, just a game and half behind them in the standings. Let’s take a closer look at the Pacific Division drama that occurred on Saturday night.

Golden State Warriors Defeat Portland Trail Blazers 125-98

Stephen Curry blew up for 39 points against the Trail Blazers on Saturday as the Warriors easily downed the Trail Blazers.

“It’s amazing the clinic he’s putting on,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We are witnessing one of the greatest shooters that’s ever played this game. He’s been great for us all season, but he’s on the floor like he’s the baddest dude in the building.”

Golden St ate has been sliding off and on all season, though they find themselves in a position now to lock down and claim a playoff spot for themselves. With their combination of perimeter scoring and David Lee pounding away in the paint, they could cause a match-up nightmare for a team like Los Angeles or the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

“Our goal is to be playing our best basketball these next eight games to put ourselves in position to make the playoffs and to not just be that team that goes to the playoffs and gets swept,” Curry said. “We have that bigger picture in mind. We’re not looking in the rearview mirror.”

“We have confidence he can have nights like that, but it’s still unbelievable to be out there when he gets in a groove like that,” Lee said. “The level of difficulty on a lot of the shots he’s hitting is unbelievable.”

Houston Rockets Defeat Los Angeles Clippers 98-81

The Houston Rockets didn’t have James Harden, but it didn’t matter much; they challenged the Clippers defense at every turn, and switched their weakness into a strength by catching the Clips off guard. Five Rockets players scored over 11 points, and five players also went over +10 in the +/- statistical category. It was a well-balanced attack that Los Angeles simply had no answer for.

“We were terrible, our effort was terrible, our attitude was terrible and our urgency was terrible,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “They know exactly how I feel, and they didn’t say much. That’s not what we’re about.”

The Clippers were off balance all night, and Del Negro made them pay. He benched all four of his starters except Chris Paul in the fourth quarter. Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford also got technical in the second quarter, something Del Negro wasn’t thrilled to see.

“When that happens, it’s a selfish act that doesn’t make any sense, and it hurts the team,” Del Negro said. “I’ve got a lot of whining going on and a lack of urgency going on and it’s disappointing.”

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