THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Friday, November 20, 2015, 11:20 AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With an NBA championship in their back pocket, the Golden State Warriors never feel as though they’re out of a game. Even when trailing by 23 in the first half.
Stephen Curry scored 40 points and the Warriors shot 8 of 9 on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 124-117 Thursday night for their 13th consecutive victory to start the season.
“Obviously, you don’t get a trophy for it, but it’s just a nice story line and a nice way to start the season,” Curry said. “We want to enjoy this.”
Klay Thompson added 25 points, Harrison Barnes had 21 and Draymond Green 19 for the Warriors, one of four teams in NBA history to open 13-0. The defending champs improved to 6-0 on the road while completing the biggest comeback in the league this season.
“We just continued to fight and even when they were hitting everything, it still never felt like they were just controlling the game,” Green said. “When it’s like that, you’ve got a shot at winning.”
The Warriors were 11 of 15 from the field in the fourth, when they made nine of 10 free throws and outrebounded the Clippers 11-6.
“Those numbers are insane,” said Clippers star Blake Griffin, who had 27 points but was limited to one free throw and three shots in the fourth. “They’re the better team. We’re trying to get to where they’re at.”
The Warriors withstood five turnovers, some of which allowed the Clippers to stretch their lead from three points to 10 with 5 minutes remaining.
“Whether they shoot well or not, that’s what fuels their offense — easy buckets in transition off turnovers,” Curry said. “Once we started getting good possessions on offense, then we got stops because we were able to set our defense and make it tough on them. Then we were able to make some shots and run away with it.”
Chris Paul scored a season-high 35 points, including 18 while igniting the Clippers in the opening quarter after missing two games with a sore right groin. Jamal Crawford added 15 points.
The Warriors closed on a 25-8 run, taking their first lead since Curry’s 3-pointer began the game. He sat down with two early fouls in the first quarter.
“They made every big shot,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Their ball found everyone.”
Thompson hit a 3 for a 113-112 lead with 2:43 left before Crawford’s 3-pointer provided the Clippers’ last lead of 115-113. From there, Curry hit a 3, Green scored on a cutting layup and Curry made four straight free throws for a 122-115 advantage.
“We’ve got to find a way to win that game and that’s on me,” Paul said.
The Warriors pulled to 96-95 on a 3-pointer by Barnes in the fourth before DeAndre Jordan got fouled and made both free throws. He followed with an alley-oop dunk off Paul’s pass near the Warriors’ bench, and Josh Smith capped the 6-0 run with a one-handed slam after Curry’s turnover for a 102-95 lead.
Both teams began firing up 3s. Paul Pierce followed Paul’s 3 from the left corner with one of his own that stretched the Clippers’ lead to 112-102 in their last scoring burst of the game. Andre Iguodala hit a pair that left Golden State trailing 112-110.
Golden State cut its deficit to 83-76 late in the third, outscoring Los Angeles 22-11 on a combined 16 points by Curry and Green.
Chris Paul scores 18 in the first quarter to stake the Clippers to a 23-point first-half lead but L.A. could not put the Warriors away.
Green’s 3-pointer beat the buzzer and left the Warriors trailing 91-85 heading into the fourth.
The Clippers shot 71 percent in the first quarter, when Paul scored 18 points and was perfect from the floor, the 3-point line and the free throw line. At one point, Paul had singlehandedly outscored Golden State 18-16 while Curry had two fouls and two turnovers in the game’s first 4 minutes.
The Warriors clearly have gotten over their championship run last season and are focused on new challenges. Going into training camp, the coaching staff wasn’t sure that was going to be the case.
“We even talked about it as a staff, that we might have to send that message out,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “But from the first day of camp, the players were on the court ready to work and were competing. That’s what makes it so much fun to coach these guys. They put their personal goals aside and it’s all about the team goal.”
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“Once you win a title, you own confidence through 82 games and into the playoffs,” Rivers said.