For all the problems he had facing the Los Angeles Clippers’ smothering trap defense in Game 2 of their playoff series, Warriors guard Stephen Curry hopes to see more of it.
So, too, do the rest of his Golden State teammates.
That might seem odd coming from a team that was on the bad side of a 40-point loss that tied the series at 1-1. The Warriors committed 26 turnovers and spent most of the game trying to dig out of a double-digit hole that just kept getting deeper.
Yet almost to a man, the Warriors believe the problems they had against the trap were mostly self-inflicted.
That’s why when Golden State returned to the practice floor Tuesday, the emphasis was on cleaning up the mistakes the Warriors made more so than altering the offense to adjust to what Los Angeles did.
“We entice that trap because we have talent all over the court,” Curry said. “If you give us an advantage we’re probably going to beat you more times than not. Last night it seemed like we weren’t able to make crisp, clean passes and crisp moves to the basket out of that trap, especially early in the game.”
Los Angeles altered its defensive tactics slightly in the 138-98 blowout, harassing Curry with an aggressive two-man trap that successfully took him out of the mix. They also ran the trap at times in Game 1 but were more active with it Monday.
Curry insists things will be different in Game 3 Thursday when the series shifts to Oracle Arena.
“I just have to be aggressive out of it,” said Curry, the Warriors’ leading scorer. “If they’re going to trap, that’s fine. I just have to be able to make the right play out of it. It’s not the first trap we’ve seen all year, so we’ll be fine.”
Golden State was anything but fine in Game 2.
The Clippers bounced back from their series-opening loss at home to dominate the Warriors at every turn behind a playoff-high 35 points from Blake Griffin.
Things got chippy between the two Pacific Division rivals late as the margin on the scoreboard widened.
Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers and Golden State center Jermaine O’Neal got into a heated exchange. Warriors backup point guard Jordan Crawford was called for a flagrant-1 foul after shoving Darren Collison. The Clippers’ Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis went at it with the Warriors’ Marreese Speights.
Even the mild-mannered Curry lost his cool and threw his mouthpiece to the floor in anger in the third quarter. It nearly hit Rivers’ foot, and Curry received a technical foul.
“They played better but we kind of fueled their offense by not having good possessions of our own and having a lot of defensive breakdowns,” Curry said. “Everything kind of went their way from start to finish.”
While Los Angeles set the tone with its defense, Griffin made the difference for the Clippers offensively and took full advantage of the absence of Golden State’s 7-foot center Andrew Bogut. Bogut has a fractured right rib and is out indefinitely.
“I felt going into the game we were so much more relaxed that we were going to play better,” said Griffin, who shot 13 of 17 from the floor. “Really, it was the way we played. It wasn’t about how many points we won by. We realized that if we played our game and do the things that we worked on, we’d be successful.”
The Clippers remained in Southern California to prepare for Thursday’s game while the Warriors were back at their own facilities trying to wipe away the memories of one of the worst postseason losses in franchise history.
Curry and David Lee smiled and laughed near one corner. Across the gym, Klay Thompson engaged in a friendly game of horse with a pair of teammates. O’Neal held court with several members of the media, recounting the confrontation he had with Rivers.
“We told each other we love each other,” O’Neal said with a grin. “I’m sure if we saw each other right now we’d probably go out and have lunch together and talk about it. Nothing personal.”
It was the type of atmosphere coach Mark Jackson was hoping for after reminding his players they still own homecourt advantage in the series despite the lopsided loss in Game 2.
“[We] have a young group and they’ve got to be reminded,” Jackson said. “We’ve accomplished what we set out to accomplish before the series started. Now we have to take care of business at home.”