OAKLAND – The Clippers pummeled the Celtics and stormed back against the Jazz. They swept a four-game trip and they won two home day games in about 24 hours in a freak schedule occurrence. They played with the hunger of a lottery team and the composure and heart of a champion. They racked up 17-straight wins.
But that was earlier in the week. The winning streak (the longest streak in franchise history and the best by any team in a little more than four years) ended Tuesday night at Denver and a reverse streak continued Wednesday with another loss against the Warriors.
Strange how the best run in the Buffalo-San Diego-Los Angeles years could become a partial statement on the Warriors, an opponent not even involved in the nonstop winning from Nov. 28 to Dec. 30. Welcome to it, though. Welcome to the reality.
Seventeen consecutive victories is usually able to provide some separation from the field, yet there was Golden State all of 3 ½ games back in the Pacific Division. And then came Warriors 115, Clippers 94 on Wednesday to slice the margin to 2 ½ games.
That made it official. Los Angeles had a historic string of success and could not give its top challenger within the division — and now, it must be said about Golden State, within the Western Conference — the slip. All that winning, which started when both were 8-6, is now worth 2 ½ games in the standings.
More perspective: The Clippers have had 18 home games and 15 road games compared the Warriors with 15 home games and 17 road games.
This does set up well for Golden State
“What they did has nothing to do with us,” Stephen Curry said after making 11 of his 16 shots en route to a game-high 31 points. “For us, we didn’t need this game to prove that we’re playing good basketball and that we’re a serious team and a force to be reckoned with. This is just another opportunity for us to play well in front of our fans at home. We were coming off a nice little break to re-energize ourselves and we didn’t have any slip-ups after being off for three days. That just shows how locked in and focused we are.”
Indeed, the Warriors found little statement in essentially taking the best hit the Clippers had to deliver and refusing to go away. As coach Mark Jackson said:” Give them credit. They put together a great run. It’s not our concern. Our concern was to take care of business on our end. We’re satisfied with what we’ve been able to accomplish, and we’re going to continue fight and scratch and claw and put victories together. That’s the Clippers’ business. More power to them.
“Credit to my guys because even though the Clippers put together a great run, they separated themselves from a lot of people, and we’re within range.”
That was the closest Jackson came to turning L.A.’s success into Golden State’s success.
“If we continue to do what we’re doing, our goal is not the Clippers,” Jackson said. “They’re a very good basketball team having a very good year. Our goal is to be the best that we can be.”
The Warriors and Clippers play again Saturday night in Los Angeles. Another Golden State win will clinch the season series, a valuable tie-breaker chip if it is needed in April. Another Golden State win could also, depending on what happens before Saturday, be worth the Pacific Division lead.
Welcome to the reality.