Warriors

Warriors know they can't be complacent in Game 5 vs. Clippers

Warriors know they can't be complacent in Game 5 vs. Clippers

LOS ANGELES -- The Golden State Warriors seized control of their NBA playoff first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, taking a three games-to-one lead Sunday afternoon.

But any Warriors observer can admit the team's susceptibility to complacency, evidenced by their blown 31-point lead in Game 2 last week.

The occasional lapses have been met with a scrappy, young, No. 8-seeded Clippers team that has stuck with the champs tooth and nail throughout the series. Despite the loss, the Clippers showed why the Warriors can't afford to display their complacent ways in Game 5 on Wednesday night.

"They're a talented team," Warriors guard Stephen Curry said after Sunday's 113-105 win. "They're an eighth seed of whatever that means, but they're competitive, and they have guys that you got to pay attention to."

In a game the Warriors led by 10 at the end the first quarter and eight at halftime, the Clippers never seemed out of it. Rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 25 points, helping offset Klay Thompson's 27 first-half points. In the third quarter, the Clippers opened on an 18-11 run to cut the Warriors' eight-point lead to one with 6:19 to go in the quarter. A little over two minutes later, Los Angeles even took a brief five-point lead before Golden State regained control.

"I loved how we fought," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I loved how we kept coming back. You know, because you have to against them. I didn't think any of our guys were fazed when one of their guys made a shot or made a great play. We went right back at them. I think that's how you have to play them."

Many NBA observers didn't believe the Clippers would be in the playoffs two months ago, let alone secure the No. 8 seed. One day before the trade deadline, the Clippers sent away leading scorer Tobias Harris, center Boban Marjanović and forward Mike Scott in exchange for forward Wilson Chandler, big man Mike Muscala and rookie guard Landry Shamet in a move that was seen as a deal to build the team for the future instead of play for the present.

Instead, the Clippers won 13 of 15 games in March to earn a playoff berth in the final weeks of the season. Still, the Warriors -- who have battled with complacency issues all season -- have had mental lapses in the first-round matchup. On Tuesday, they were outscored 85-58 in the second half of Game 2, as Shamet scored 12 and made the go-ahead bucket late in the fourth quarter, putting a brief scare in the champs.

"They don't stop, man," Durant said. "They're one of those teams, they make you feel them all game, and even when you go home after the game, you're going to be thinking about them because they're tough."

Despite being severely outmanned in the series, the Clippers have given the Warriors their best shot. Guard Patrick Beverley has baited Warriors forward Kevin Durant into an ejection, enticing Curry into foul trouble and earning the champs' respect in the process as both teams head to Oracle Arena for Game 5.

[RELATED: Dip in the ocean woke up Klay for Game 4]

"One thing I will say about our team is we will be ready," Rivers said following Game 4. "We'll show up. I can guarantee you that. This team has never not done that, and it would be nice to get back here, that's for sure."

"We have definitely had to earn the wins we've gotten," Curry added. "And the work is not done until the horn sounds on that fourth win."

NBA rumors: Ex-Warrior Quinn Cook changing number to honor Kobe Bryant

NBA rumors: Ex-Warrior Quinn Cook changing number to honor Kobe Bryant

Quinn Cook grew up in the Washington D.C. area worshipping the Los Angeles Lakers.

He loved Kobe Bryant.

So it's not a surprise that the former Warriors guard -- who signed a two-year contract with the Lakers last summer -- is honoring the NBA legend:

Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were two of nine people who tragically died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash.

[RELATED: Why Kobe's death made Perkins want to end beef with Durant]

Cook and the rest of the basketball world will help ensure that their legacies live on forever.

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How Kobe Bryant's sudden death is first of its kind in wireless world

How Kobe Bryant's sudden death is first of its kind in wireless world

Most of us with an early love of sport were drawn to a particular athlete who touched us and became our first favorite. For me, that was Roberto Clemente.

Baseball was my first sports passion, inherited from my mother, who told stories of her youth in Louisiana, where several relatives were good enough to play in the Negro Leagues -- the only one available to them -- and make a buck while entertaining locals.

Growing up in Oakland, baseball meant choosing between the Giants and the A’s. I liked both, really, with a slight edge to the A’s. No one on either team captured my attention as Clemente did, even though he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2,500 miles away.

He captured my attention with his style and performance, and he maintained it with his intensity, which burned through the TV screen. He was fierce and clutch. Playing the game as if obsessed with getting all he could from it before it was taken away, he left no room to question how much it meant to him.

I pleaded for and received a Clemente bat, with the distinctive thick handle, and tried imitating his violent swing. I wanted a Clemente glove, which I did not get. Through it all, I read every page of every newspaper article or book that I could find. I still remember one sportswriter’s description of Clemente’s skin as “so tight it barely fits.”

So, when the news came on Dec. 31, 1972 that Clemente had been on a plane that dived into the Atlantic Ocean and was lost at sea, my naïve mind somehow imagined he could survive. That he would swim ashore. Not until a few days later, when reality set in, did I weep, along with all of baseball.

I later learned a few things. One, that Puerto Rico, as a nation, went from frantic to distraught. That day after day, for weeks, people would line up along shore to watch scuba divers scour the ocean. That one of Clemente’s teammates, catcher Manny Sanguillen was so hysterical that for three days he insisted on joining recovery efforts that never recovered Clemente’s remains.

I also learned that Clemente had, over a period of years, told numerous people he would die young. He was 38.

There was Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady on Monday, trying and failing to suppress his sobbing, saying Kobe Bryant had talked of dying young. He wanted to be immortalized.

Kobe was 41.

Died in an air disaster.

Was there ever any room to wonder how much competing meant to Kobe?

But 47 years later, the world is much different. Technology has made it a much closer place. Whereas Clemente’s sudden death hit specific areas exceedingly hard, Kobe’s death is the first of a superstar athlete dying, while still vibrant, in our wireless world.

It is that component that makes the sadness so massive. It is Day 4 and we still are reeling. All of us, to varying degrees. Businesses unaffiliated with sports are sending emails to employees notifying them of Kobe Remembrance days.

Have we ever seen so many men, from so many walks of life, shedding tears? Droplets streaming down the face of 7-foot-1, 350-pound Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe’s teammate with the Lakers for eight seasons. Jerry West, a certified legend and the man who ensured Kobe would be a Laker, blubbering “I don’t know if I can get over this.”

Players, coaches and fans wiping tears, a lump in every throat. Every pocket of the planet is shaken, every continent grieving. Never have so many sneakers been scribbled on, so many No. 8s and No. 24s gracing jerseys across so many sports. So many moments of silence in so many gyms. Kobe jerseys are being worn in China, in Europe, in Brazil, in Canada, even in Boston and Sacramento. Probably in Russia and certainly in Italy.

Nike, the largest athletic wear company on earth, has been raided of its Kobe apparel. All out. Orders must wait.

Kobe was known to billions. And the first favorite for millions.

The games go on, as Kobe would have demanded. The Warriors and 76ers played Tuesday night in Philadelphia, a few miles from where he was born.

Joel Embiid, who normally wears No. 21, asked permission to wear No. 24, which is retired as the number worn by Sixers legend Bobby Jones. Jones gave his OK. Embiid, who had not played in three weeks, scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Those numbers. Again.

“That was cool,” Embiid told reporters in Philadelphia. “I didn’t know it was actually 24 points as I shot that fadeaway. That was what he was about. I actually yelled, ‘Kobe!’ A lot of us, since I started playing basketball, that’s how we’ve always done it. You shoot something in the trash and you just go ‘Kobe!’ so that was cool.”

The shock is fading ever so slightly, giving way to heartfelt remembrances and testimonials, a futile effort to breathe life into a perished legend.

“A few days out, we’re able to reflect a little bit and think about Kobe’s career and his life,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

“The reality that Kobe has passed gets a little bit more, for me, real,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “It’s final and the impact that he has had on our game ... really, it’s been interesting for me to see the connection that the basketball fraternity has, in an incredibly sad way, been forced to make. Everybody reaches out and there is a connection that you feel as a basketball world.

"It’s deeper than the NBA.”

[RELATED: Dubs' first game after Kobe's death doesn't ease pain]

Thousands continue to wander, at all hours, the area of downtown Los Angeles near Staples Center. They’re bringing flowers. They’re writing messages. They’re hugging. They’re crying. They’re staring at images of Kobe.

Los Angeles and the world in January 2020 are aching, just as my little corner of Oakland, along with all of Pittsburgh and Puerto Rico, were in January 1973.