Photo: Robert Laberge / Getty Images
LOS ANGELES – Klay Thompson adheres to a strict code: Regardless of how many shots he has missed, he will continue to shake the jumper. The downturn can last only so long for one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, right?
After struggling almost all night on Monday, Thompson let go of one of his marking party feasts, scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 31 points and lifting the Warriors into an unexpected extension. But with Stephen Curry sidelined because of the tense left groin and Kevin Durant fouling at the start of the match at the OT, the Warriors were unable to take advantage of when they fell 121-116 in extra time to the Clippers for their second defeat in three matches.
With a little help that night from his supporting players, Durant was an aggressor, forcing enough contacts to get dirty problems. At the end of the third quarter, with the Warriors down 10, Durant headed for the bench with a fifth foul after dropping Los Angeles forward Montrezl Harrell on a dunk attempt. By the time Durant returned to the floor with less than nine minutes remaining in the rules, Golden State was behind 96-85.
Durant repeatedly forced the isolation situation, only to be enveloped by a double team. Then Thompson finally found his rhythm. With the Warriors down 106-98 with less than 3½ minutes remaining, Thompson hit a long jumper and two three-pointers to tie the game with 1:27 remaining in the rules. Guard Lou Williams, who led the Clippers with 25 points from the bench, missed two breaks down to the stretch for Golden State to play the first overtime of the season.
With the Warriors going up 109-106 and 3:46 remaining, Durant whistled to reach the end of the night. This made an important test of the start of the season: Without Durant and Curry, could Golden State fend off the Clippers team that was inspired on the road?
That the answer was not there for not trying Thompson. With 1:52 remaining, Thompson hit a 20-foot jumper to give the Golden State a 113-111 lead. Forty-five seconds later, he caught a pass from Andre Iguodala and drilled a three-point shot to play the game 116-116.
But after Williams made a layup, Thompson's backward jumper with 42.7 seconds left met with iron, and Williams, who scored 10 of the 15 Clippers' points in extra time, made three dirty shots under stretch to seal them.
Now, not long after winning 10 of the first 11 games, Golden State suddenly looks a little vulnerable. This clearly did not help Curry miss his second visit in a row on Monday.
Curry, who did not travel with his team to Los Angeles, has been ruled out for Tuesday night's game against Atlanta at Oracle Arena.
Meanwhile, Durant and Thompson could use more help.
Before Thompson's explosion, Durant did everything he could to keep Golden State in the game, finishing with 33 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and two blocks. Thompson and Durant joined for 55.2 percent of Warriors violations.
Two nights were removed from the jewel 27 points, Quinn Cook – starting without Curry's presence – numbered seven points in 22 minutes. Draymond Green, back in the lineup after missing two matches with a sore right foot, missed six of his nine shots and, with the chance to win in the final seconds of regulation, fumbled the ball away on the tripping drive.
The Warriors now want to get out of their small slump against Atlanta, one of the worst teams in the league, but with little time to regroup.