OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Stephen Curry took some good-natured ribbing from his Golden State teammates following an impromptu celebration near the bench late in fourth quarter against Los Angeles.
Few teams have caused more problems this season for the Pacific Division leaders than the Warriors, and Curry has been a major reason why.
Curry made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and Golden State rallied from seven points down in the final 11 minutes to beat the Clippers 106-99 on Monday.
``When you start to talk about elite point guards in this league ... as far as shooting the long ball, Stef is by far the best at his position,' said Jarrett Jack, who had 18 points and 10 assists off the bench for the Warriors. ``Playing with him on a regular basis I've got a better appreciation for him. When he's able to get hot like he did, it serves our offense that much more.'
Curry finished with 28 points and is averaging 23.0 points in four games against the Clippers this season.
That's a key to why the Warriors have won three of those games and are the only team to beat Los Angeles more than once this year.
``That means you're beating a good team and you're stepping up for big games,' said Curry, who went 6 of 8 from beyond the arc. ``To win three out of four and continue playing the good ball that we've been playing, that's just a good sign for us.'
Curry stayed mostly silent for three quarters in his second game back from an ankle injury but gave the Warriors a much-needed spark in the fourth after the Clippers had taken an 82-75 lead.
He scored 16 points, including three 3s in a span of 2:13, fired a bounce pass from midcourt to Jack for a fast-break layup that capped a 10-2 run and made four free throws over the final 23.4 seconds to seal the win in what has quickly become a heated rivalry between these two West Coast teams.
Things got chippy just before halftime when the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan was called for a technical foul after shoving David Lee into the lap of a courtside fan after getting fouled by Lee. The two men were quickly separated and Klay Thompson made the free throw for Golden State.
Curry further frustrated the Clippers after his 3-pointer in the fourth quarter gave the Warriors an 88-86 lead. Curry raised his arms in the air, pumped his right fist emphatically then galloped down the court. He started dancing after making another 3 later in the quarter.
The Clippers took notice.
``That's a young team that's improving, for sure, but we have our sights set on trying to play in June,' said Los Angeles guard Jamal Crawford. ``I'm not saying they don't. But we're looking at bigger goals than celebrating everything.'
Los Angeles regained its composure long enough to put together a 12-0 run to end the third quarter and was comfortably up in the fourth before Curry rallied the Warriors to end the Clippers' four-game winning streak.
There were five lead changes in the fourth quarter, but Los Angeles managed only two baskets over the final 3:40 while Golden State closed on a 14-4 run.
Blake Griffin had 26 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers. Crawford added 24 points off the bench.
Chris Paul, playing in his second game after sitting out three with a knee injury, had just four points on 1 of 7 shooting. After the game, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said the team would reevaluate Paul's status before clearing him to play against Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
``You could see he doesn't have that extra burst like he usually has,' Del Negro said. ``It's nice to have him out there because he settles everything down. It's just that he can't play at the level he's used to with the injury.'
Klay Thompson scored 18 points and Lee had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors.
Golden State (25-15) has won back-to-back games for the first time since the end of December and still trail Los Angeles by six games in the Pacific. The Clippers (32-10) lost for just the second time in nine games.
The flurry at the end was in stark contrast to earlier in the game when neither team could establish much control.
Griffin's thunderous dunk from just outside the lane gave the Clippers an early lead and Crawford later scored eight consecutive points to make it 33-29. Draymond Green's jumper and two free throws from Jarrett Jack with 0.4 seconds left tied the score.
The Warriors scored 10 straight points to open the second and went up 52-42 on Curry's fadeaway jumper with 3:10 remaining before the Clippers put together their best run of the half. Griffin scored on a reverse layup and had two free throws, Butler made a 3-pointer and Paul added two free throws to help pull Los Angeles to 53-52 at the break.
Crawford, the former Warrior, got Los Angeles going briefly in the third.
After Lee's layup put Golden State up 71-65, Crawford made two 3-pointers and banked a 5-footer off the glass as part of a 15-2 run to close the period.
Crawford finished 9 of 18 from the floor and set a season high for 3s (six) while Caron Butler added 19 points and five rebounds for Los Angeles.
The Clippers went up 82-75 on a reverse layup by Matt Barnes with 10:49 left but couldn't make the lead hold up.
NOTES: Injured Warriors C Andrew Bogut ran full-court sprints before the game, an important step in his rehab from his left. The 7-footer has not played since Nov. 7 and has missed 36 games overall this season. Golden State coach Mark Jackson, however, isn't putting a timetable on Bogut's return. ``We've got to keep it moving and look forward to having him one day, whenever that comes,' Jackson said. ``I, like Dr. King, have a dream.' ... Del Negro opted to hold F Grant Hill in order to rest him for Tuesday's game against Oklahoma City. ... The Warriors announced that F Brandon Rush underwent successful surgery on his injured left knee on Jan. 16. Rush has been out for the season since Nov. 2.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved