No Stephen Curry. No Klay Thompson. No Blake Griffin.
The stage was set for Kevin Durant to have a historic night — and he did. One problem: he wasn’t the only one.
Lou Williams cooked everyone in a Warriors jersey to lead the Clippers (19-21) to a 125-106 victory Wednesday.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.
What was a few short years ago a must-watch matchup, slowly turned into what seemed like a local pickup game.
It started four games ago, when the Warriors (33-9) topped the Clippers in Los Angeles, with Griffin suffering a concussion leaving him unlikely to play in the rematch. Then there was the uncertainty of whether or not Durant would be healthy enough to suit up.
But, once it was confirmed he would play Thompson was announced he was sitting out to rest. Then the biggest blow of them all when Curry tweaked his ankle during the morning shootaround and was ruled out.
By game time it seemed like the only thing worth watching would be if Durant would reach 20,000 career points, which he did before halftime, knocking down nine of his first 10 shots en route to the historic mark. He became the second-youngest player ever to reach that mark, behind just LeBron James, and received a standing ovation from the Oracle crowd.
Durant said he appreciated the love he was shown by the crowd:
“For the fans to recognize me for doing that and scoring that many points it was cool. It was weird because I don’t like when everybody is just standing up clapping for me, it’s a team game and there are so many players out on the court, so that was weird. … But just thank you and appreciate it.”
And once that happened all the excitement drained, and as the anticipation faded so did the Warriors energy level. While it never started at the highest level, it hit rock bottom in the third when the Warriors struggled to score 28 points. Conversely, Williams scored 27 third-quarter points himself.
Steve Kerr didn’t like the team’s energy the entire game:
“Our spirit wasn’t right. Our energy wasn’t right. We weren’t connected and the Clippers were. They came in here probably insulted that we were resting Klay and obviously Steph goes down and the game changes. And they came in and just kicked our asses… I just didn’t like the way the game unfolded with our lack of energy, actually it was like a negative energy, and I haven’t seen that often with this team.”
While Durant got the accolades for reaching a point milestone, it was Williams who’s scoring took center stage. He would finish with 50 points on 16-of-27 shooting, eight 3’s and seven assists, erasing any concerns the Clippers might have had missing four of their top five scorers.
Durant said that his team allowed Williams to get too comfortable and once that happened it was a wrap:
“We let him go left for pull up 3’s and that’s a cash shot for him. That’s what he does. So he got it going in the pick-and-roll and we were just a little too loose on him, we let him go wherever he wanted. And he ordered 50-piece nuggets on us tonight. When somebody score 50 on you, the way he did, you just got to pay homage and move on.”
Durant did all he could to combat Williams, pouring in 40 of his own on just 18 shots, including 6-of-7 from 3. But take away those numbers and the Warriors shot just 24-of-62 from the field and 2-of-16 from deep.
Their second-leading scorer? That would be Zaza Pachulia with 12, with no other Warrior reaching double figures. In fact, of the top five scorers Wednesday, the Clippers had four of them, and one of them, C.J. Williams left 30 seconds into the third quarter due to injury.
Aside from Durant and Pachulia, the Warriors other three starters–Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston and Nick Young— finished 5-of-23 and 1-of-13 from beyond the arc. Numbers that are not going to cut it against any team, hampered by injuries or not.
Calling this a lackluster performance would be too generous as it looked like the Warriors didn’t want to be anywhere near a basketball court.
And most of the fans at Oracle probably wish they hadn’t been.
After their quick two-game homestand, the Warriors head out on a tough five-game 13-day road trip, which starts Friday in Milwaukee against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks (22-18).
This was the first time the Clippers won at Oracle Arena since the 2014 playoffs. The Warriors had won 11 straight games at home against LA and 12 consecutive regular season games.
Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.