Warriors' late rally falls short in Game 3 loss to Clippers

OAKLAND — The Warriors stole home-court advantage from the Los Angeles Clippers in the first game of the playoffs, but the crowd at Oracle Arena wasn't enough to keep that edge in Game 3 as Los Angeles held off a furious Golden State rally to win 98-96 Thursday.

Down two points with time winding down, Warriors All-Star guard Stephen Curry had a chance to win it with a 3-pointer, but his short fell way short thanks to Chris Paul's tight defense.

That allowed the Clippers to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.

Curry got off to a slow start, scoring only four points in the first half as he was hounded by double-teams from the Clippers. He finished with 16 points and 15 assists.

After a Warriors rally closed the gap to three at halftime, Clippers forward Blake Griffin opened the third quarter by scoring 10 points in a row for Los Angeles.

Griffin finished with 31 points and eight rebounds, while his partner in the frontcourt, DeAndre Jordan, had a double-double by halftime and finished the game with 14 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks.

The Clippers' defense suffocated the Warriors throughout most of the game, denying easy layups and forcing Golden State into 17 turnovers. The lead climbed to as high as 18 in the third quarter before things started to get chippy.

Forward David Lee never got things going against the physical Clippers frontcourt, finishing with 12 points on 6-for-15 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds.

Warriors forward Draymond Green stared down Jordan after Green dunked over him, then committed a flagrant foul on Griffin on the other end. Matt Barnes had a flagrant foul for the Clippers, and Paul, who finished with 15 points and 10 assists, had a technical.

That seemed to spark the Warriors as they mounted a 10-0 run to cut into the lead, and had it to within one several times in the fourth quarter, including after a 3-pointer by Curry with 11 seconds left that made it 97-96, but by then it was too late.

Paul then split two free throws and Curry missed the last-ditch effort 3-pointer to seal the Warriors' fate.

After setting a franchise record for made 3s this season, the Warriors were held to 6-for-31 from beyond the arc, including 3-for-8 from Curry and 2-for-11 from Klay Thompson. They were just 2-for-20 from 3-point land in the first half. Thompson led the Warriors with 26 points.

The Warriors will try to even the series Sunday in Oakland in Game 4, before heading back to Los Angeles for Game 5 on Tuesday.

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By Al Saracevic