OAKLAND -- Even as Steve Kerr spent three days talking about the difficulties the Warriors would face in trying to oust the Clippers from the NBA playoffs, he could not have imagined what transpired Wednesday night.
This was Los Angeles performing surgery without anesthesia, and the Warriors came away with a painful 129-121 loss in Game 5 of this first-round series.
The Warriors own a three-games-to-two series lead as the teams go back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Friday night at Staples Center.
Here are three takeaways from the game at Oracle Arena:
The defense rested
For a team on a quest to play into June, the Warriors in this game looked a lot like a bunch ready to go on vacation before May.
This was profoundly obvious on defense, where they were by turns sloppy, indifferent, inattentive and simply less determined than the Clippers were on offense. It was so bad at times that you wondered if they’d watched any video.
Guard Lou Williams, under wraps in Games 3 and 4, scored 18 points in the first half and 33 for the game. Forward Danilo Gallinari, contained all series, scored 16 points in the first half and 26 for the game. Patrick Beverley, known mostly for his defense, totaled 17 points.
The Warriors last season amped up their defense in the playoffs. With a chance to put away the Clippers, they couldn’t seem to find the energy. Los Angeles shot 54.1 percent from the field.
Look no further to discern how the Warriors lost this one.
Pounded in the paint
The Clippers shot reasonably well from deep (13 of 34), but they didn’t have to rely on that because they had plenty of success attacking the paint.
LA piled up 54 points in the paint (the Warriors had 34), with hyperactive Montrezl Harrell (24 points, 11-of-14 shooting from the field) continuing his ferocious work inside. Williams also torched the Warriors with his drives and floaters.
The Clippers dominated the glass for most of the night before ending with a 42-39 advantage, with Beverley -- a tenacious 6-foot-1 -- snagging a game-high 11 rebounds.
Don’t blame KD
If you’re looking for a Warriors bright spot, turn to Kevin Durant. He was mostly solid on defense but nothing short of fantastic on offense.
Durant scored 45 points on 14-of-26 shooting, including 5 of 12 from beyond the arc and 12 of 12 from the line. Over the course of the game, he lit up JaMychal Green, Landry Shamet, Beverley and Gallinari.
For the heck of it, Durant also had six rebounds and six assists.
What he didn’t have was enough help.