OAKLAND -#8212; A deafening crowd at Oracle Arena ... a big second-half comeback ... a bully getting pushed back. Thursday night's Game 3 had all the makings of a playoff game that would become part of Warriors lore.
But the visiting Los Angeles Clippers tore the script in half.
After watching their 18-point lead dwindle to almost nothing, the Clippers forced Stephen Curry into a very difficult shot with four seconds left. It fell well short of the mark, and Los Angeles survived with a 98-96 victory, reclaiming the home-court advantage in this best-of-seven series.
Did Curry think Los Angeles' Chris Paul made contact on that final attempt?
"I did," Curry said afterward. "I thought I had initiated enough contact on the stepback to draw the foul, especially on the way up. It's usually a point of emphasis: You're not allowed to bump a guy while he's jumping up in the air for a shot. I thought that's what happened."
Golden State couldn't hit 3-pointers for vast stretches of the game, and Clippers couldn't make their free throws. But L.A., coming off a 40-point mauling in Game 2, was just a little better this time.
Blake Griffin scored 32 points on a variety of shots, and center DeAndre Jordan snared 22 rebounds, the most by a Clipper in a postseason game since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.
Los Angeles twice pushed its lead to 18 points, the second time on J.J. Redick's 3-pointer at the 5:31 mark of the third quarter. But the Warriors climbed back into it largely behind the artistry of Klay Thompson, who would finish with 26 points.
Golden State cut the Clippers' lead to 87-86 on Thompson's short turnaround jumper with 4:24 left in the game, watched L.A. bump the margin back up to eight points, then trimmed it to 97-96 on Curry's second straight 3-pointer.
The Warriors' All-Star finished with just 16 points, though he dished out 15 assists.
The Clippers came out with an intensity after halftime that the Warriors simply couldn't match, and it was Griffin that keyed the charge. Most of his first-half points came around the basket. Griffin spotlighted his shooting skills in the second as he scored L.A.'s first 10 points, including a 22-foot jumper over David Lee and nearly identical bank shots over Jermaine O'Neal.
With Andrew Bogut still out with a broken rib, 6-foot-11 center Jordan had his way inside for the Clippers.
He converted touch passes into monster slams, influenced the Warriors' shots even when he didn't block them and grabbed seemingly every rebound in sight. Jordan had five blocked shots.
"DJ's a great defender," L.A. coach Doc Rivers said. "And he defended the basket tonight. I mean, he did such a great job tonight. You know, we always forget about his rebounding, which I think he's been dominant at, as well.
"But the blocks, more to change shots, or the quick releases because he's around, that's been great for us."
The Clippers' subs outplayed the Warriors' subs in the second quarter, and Los Angeles pulled out to a nine-point lead. But the home team couldn't be shaken.
The Warriors ended the first half on a 6-0 run that included a halfcourt pass from Andre Iguodala to Curry for a layup, and a 3-point shot by Thompson. The trey was Golden State's first of the game; it came with 1:04 remaining before halftime.