The Los Angeles Clippers have followed up their undefeated month of December with two consecutive defeats in 2013, the second coming against their divisional rival, the Golden State Warriors.
In a game between Western Conference doormats-turned-contenders, the Warriors cruised to a surprisingly easy 115-94 home victory Wednesday night over the Clippers thanks to the strong play of star point guard Stephen Curry and power forward David Lee.
Curry helped his team race to a 26-8 lead at the start of the game with lights-out shooting, including making nine of his first 10 field-goal attempts and five of his first six 3-point shots.
Although the Clippers went on a 16-7 run to close the first quarter, the Warriors were superior throughout most of the contest and were never in danger of relinquishing their lead.
Lee, who like Curry is seeking to make the Western Conference All-Star team this year, had another big game with 24 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.
Curry had 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while shooting guard Klay Thompson also played a key role for the Warriors with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range.
Jarrett Jack, meanwhile, was a big contributor off the bench, scoring 11 points, handing out five assists and grabbing five rebounds.
The Clippers, who had their franchise-record 17-game winning streak snapped the night before by the Denver Nuggets, were led by their own star point guard, Chris Paul, who scored 23 points and dished out six assists.
Sixth-man Jamal Crawford also did his part by scoring 24 points on an efficient 8-of-17 from the field, but star forward Blake Griffin had a dreadful night with just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting.
With the loss, the Clippers fell to 25-8 and now sit just behind the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference standings.
With 49 games left in the season, the Clippers remain on track for just their fourth playoff appearance in 17 seasons and the best record in franchise history, which dates back to 1970.
The Warriors stand in fifth place in the Western Conference at 22-10 and are on course for just their third playoff appearance in the past 21 seasons.
In other action on a busy Wednesday night in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors trounced the Portland Trail Blazers 102-79, the Chicago Bulls edged the Orlando Magic 96-94, the Sacramento Kings eked out a 97-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers slipped past the Washington Wizards 89-81.
The Memphis Grizzlies scored a 93-83 victory over the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat topped the Dallas Mavericks 119-109 in overtime, the Brooklyn Nets surprised the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-93 and the San Antonio Spurs outgunned the Milwaukee Bucks 117-10.
The Houston Rockets defeated the New Orleans Hornets 104-92, the Utah Jazz routed the Minnesota Timberwolves 106-84 and the Phoenix Suns edged the Philadelphia 76ers 95-89. EFE