The Los Angeles Clippers will be the last team to take the court for the 2021-22 NBA season when they visit the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
Golden State was one of four teams to get a jump on the rest Tuesday night, and they took advantage to surprise the host Los Angeles Lakers 121-114.
Enjoying a night off like most in the league, Clippers forward Paul George was impressed that Golden State could take down the preseason Western Conference favorite on a night when star Stephen Curry shot just 5-for-21.
“They move the ball. It’s scary,” George said. “Steph didn’t shoot it well, and they still win.”
Curry did manage to record his eighth career triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, and he got plenty of support. Guards Jordan Poole and Damion Lee dropped in 20 and 15 points, respectively. Andre Iguodala contributed 12 points in his return to the Warriors, and newcomer Nemanja Bjelica hit six of his seven shots en route to 15 points off the bench.
A free agent signing in the offseason, Bjelica also found time for a team-high 11 rebounds, becoming the first player to record a double-double in his Warriors debut as a reserve since Sam Williams in 1981.
Golden State’s bench combined to outscore the Lakers’ reserves 55-29.
Curry was left gushing about every aspect of the win except his own shooting, which included 2-for-8 accuracy from 3-point range.
“If we can win a game like that,” he said, “where we create some good shots and just stuck with it defensively against a pretty good team and get a win like that, it’s a good omen for us.”
The Clippers, who finished eight wins ahead of the Warriors last season, will tip off their new campaign without two of their top players, Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka.
Leonard is coming off an ACL surgery that could cost him the entire season. Ibaka is being brought along slowly after back surgery.
The Clippers do have history on their side. They lost 14 of their last 15 games at Oracle Arena in Oakland but have won three of four since the Warriors moved into the Chase Center across the bay in San Francisco.
The Clippers stole the show in the curtain-raiser in the new building two years ago, running to a 141-122 victory.
Ivica Zubac, who is expected to get the starting call tonight in Ibaka’s place, recorded the first double-double in Chase Center history that night with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Even without Leonard and Ibaka, the Clippers should look quite familiar to the Warriors and the rest of the NBA. They return most of the roster that reached the Western Conference finals last year, with just 43 starts (34 of them by Patrick Beverley) no longer around.
The game also will serve as Iguodala’s first at home for the Warriors since he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies after the 2019 season. The three-time champ was last seen in a Golden State home uniform in Game 6 of the 2019 Finals, when he helped the Warriors stay competitive after Klay Thompson’s knee injury with 22 points in a 114-110 loss.
–Field Level Media