Warriors

NBA Gameday: Draymond Green vs Blake Griffin

NBA Gameday: Draymond Green vs Blake Griffin

OAKLAND -- Once upon a time, for a few fleeting seasons, there was a rivalry between the Warriors and the Clippers. These days, however, it’s more like an exhibition of domination.

The Warriors will be trying to sweep LA for the second consecutive season when the teams meet Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

While the Warriors (47-9) open the post-All-Star break trying to solidify their status as the No. 1 overall seed, the Clippers (35-21) are scrambling to hang onto the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. LA has won its last four games, but is 6-7 since Chris Paul went down with a thumb injury on Jan. 18.

Paul was originally expected to miss at least six weeks and still is listed as out. He has, however, received medical clearance and Clippers coach Doc Rivers on Thursday morning left open the possibility of Paul’s return.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 13

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Draymond Green vs. Blake Griffin: The rise of the Warriors can be traced back to Green’s stifling of Griffin in the first round of the 2014 playoffs. It’s a classic battle between a defensive ace and a spectacular offensive star. With Paul expected to miss his 14th consecutive game, it’s up to Griffin to make plays while also carrying the bulk of the scoring load. In three games against the Warriors this season, he is averaging 21.0 points on 45.3-percent (24-of-53) shooting.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: C Zaza Pachulia (R rotator cuff strain) and C David West (L thumb fracture) will both play.

Clippers: F Brice Johnson (herniated disk) and G Chris Paul (L thumb ligament tear) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Clippers: 5-5.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors have won the last nine regular-season meetings and 17 of the last 22. They have won 10 in a row in Oakland and 20 of the last 22.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

POST-BREAK BLUES: The first game after the break is treacherous for most teams, and the Warriors are no exception. Coming off the break last season, they went to Portland and lost by 32 -- still their most lopsided loss since Steve Kerr arrived before the 2014-15 season. Early intensity may be hard to muster, but it’s necessary.

PARK ON THE ARC: The Clippers are a team of launchers, relying largely on jumpers from the perimeter, often 3-point distance, where they rank fourth in field-goal percentage. They rank 27th in points in the paint and 24th in second-chance points, so the Warriors would be wise to force contested jump shots, no matter who is taking them.

BALL VALUE: The Warriors over the last five games are averaging a very manageable 10.8 turnovers. If they continue this trend, it pretty much closes off any avenue for the Clippers to crank up their offense.

Report: Draymond Green dared Kevin Durant to leave in free agency

Report: Draymond Green dared Kevin Durant to leave in free agency

Over the last three days, multiple stories have come out with snipets of what Draymond Green said to Kevin Durant on the bench during Monday's game against the Clippers.

Now, with the Warriors trying to put the drama behind them, a new story from Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reveals that Green dared Durant to leave the team in free agency next summer.

“We don’t need you. We won without you. Leave," Green said to Durant while in the huddle following the end of regulation against the Clippers, according to Haynes.

Whoa.

On Thursday morning in Houston, Green met with reporters and said that he had spoken with Durant and they would attempt to move forward. After Thursday's 107-86 loss to the Rockets, Durant was asked about his relationship with Green and wanted no part of the question, telling a reporter "Don't ask me about that again."

Durant has the ability to opt out of his contract at the end of the season and most observers expect him to do so. Whether he re-signs with the Warriors or bolts for a new experience is a dark cloud hanging over the Warriors right now. It appears Green is poking that cloud, looking for rain.

Drama has Warriors in an emotional fog: 'We’re banged up spiritually'

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USATSI

Drama has Warriors in an emotional fog: 'We’re banged up spiritually'

HOUSTON -- There was no visible indication of a cold war or hostility between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green on Thursday night. Invisible, too, was the joy of the Warriors, likely collateral damage in the wake of their recent dispute.

For there were times when Durant and Green and the rest of the Warriors looked like strangers playing together for the first time, which led directly to a severe throttling in the form of a 107-86 loss to the Houston Rockets.

The Warriors showed some early defensive tenacity, but for most of the game displayed very little offensive rhythm. They looked like a team in a bit of an emotional fog.

“We’re banged up a little big physically,” coach Steve Kerr said. “And right now we’re banged up spiritually. There’s no getting around that.”

Stephen Curry missed his fourth game with a groin strain, and anytime he’s not on the court the Warriors are considerably easier to defend. Green also is playing through lingering soreness in one of the toes on his right foot.  

But it’s altogether likely that the issues between Durant and Green this week sucked some of the vitality from the team.

“It’s impossible to say no. I also think it’s impossible to say yes,” Green said. “It just is what it is. We didn’t play our best game. It happens. If those emotions caused us to lose, then it’s ‘my bad.’

“But we’re not panicking or thinking we’re not a great team. We’re still the best team in the league and we’re going to win more games, a bunch of games and go win another championship. We’ll be fine.”

In falling to 12-4, the Warriors posted offensive season-lows almost across the board: points, field-goal percentage (42.1), 3-pointers (four), 3-point percentage (22.2) and assists (18).

Through their 17 turnovers, they gave Houston 29 points. The three All-Stars combined for 10, with Green’s five the team-high.

[RELATED: Warriors won't back down]

“I was horrible,” Green said. “I just couldn’t do nothing right. A lot of the stuff I saw was plays I usually make. I just didn’t really have that feel tonight. But it’ll come.”

The Warriors believe their mojo will indeed return, because it generally does. No doubt Curry’s absence is a void to big for any individual to fill, but that loss is more acute on a night when Klay Thompson shoots 5-of-16 and Durant is 6-of-15.

“When they’re switching that much (on defense), we tend to run a lot of misdirection from one side to the other,” Durant said. “And they stepped out on those pretty good."

“This team is unique,” he added. “On every single action, they make your best players try to play one-on-one. But it was one of those games where we just couldn’t get enough going. We didn’t shoot the ball well. We just didn’t knock down shots.”

The best of the Warriors (12-4) surfaced briefly in the second quarter, their best offensive quarter of the night. They scored 22 points while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

They also committed six turnovers, giving Houston 9 of its 22 points in the quarter. Green committed two of his giveaways in the second.

The Warriors ended up shooting better than Houston, 42.1 percent to 40.2. They won the rebounding battle 44-41. They pretty much lost every other aspect, most assuredly the battle of wills.

“It’s a tough stretch we’re dealing with,” Kerr said. “But I know our guys. Draymond may not have had his best night -- in fact, he played very poorly. But I like his approach. He was genuine out there. He was competing. Nothing went his way. But I like where he’s heading.

“And now, with the rest of the team, we’ve got to lift our spirits up get back on the saddle.”

Durant and Green will continue to be a storyline until the Warriors look more like themselves, or least as much as they can without Curry. He’s going to miss at least four more games. Realistically, he could miss six or seven more.

So it’s up to the able-bodied Warriors to revive and carry on. They have about 48 hours before the next game, and they look like they need at least that much time to recover.