The Golden State Warriors, under new coach Mark Jackson, have a record of 1-1 after their first two games of the season. They lost to the new look Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day, but rebounded the nest night to beat one of the Eastern Conference favorites, the Chicago Bulls.
Blake Griffin scored 22 points to lead the Clippers. Chauncey Billups had 21 and Chris Paul had 20 for L.A’s new favorite team. In fact the Warriors’ crowd even busted out a “Beat L.A.” chant during the game. Those chants have always been for the Lakers in the past.
David Lee led the Warriors with 21 points, Monta Ellis added 15, Brandon Rush had 12 and Andris Biedrins had 10.
“While we try to figure each other out and learn guys’ hot spots and stuff like that, we want to win at the same time,” Paul said. “We just keep talking about `We’ve just got to find a way to win, regardless of how it looks, how ugly the game is”’
“We grinded it out defensively when we needed to,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We controlled the tempo in the fourth quarter. I just know we can play better.”
Paul had a quiet first half but was money down the stretch, hitting several clutch baskets in the waning moments. “Just try to manage the game. It’s not my first rodeo, it’s seven years,” Paul said. “This is the first year I think I’ve had as many options as I do.”
On Monday night, the Warriors were led by Stephen Curry, who scored 21 points and played good defense on Derrick Rose to give them a split of the first two games.
“He ran his basketball team,” said Golden State coach Mark Jackson, who quietly celebrated his first victory at any level. “He was in attack mode against arguably the best point guard and the MVP of the league. He did a great job of being an extension of me on the floor.”
Monta Ellis added 26 points and David Lee had 22 to also lead the Warriors to Jackson’s first head coaching victory at any level.
“We had an opportunity to show what we’ve been working on in training camp defensively as a team, getting on the same page,” said Curry, who was taken for X-rays on his ankle after the game. “We didn’t do that in the fourth quarter last night so we had an opportunity to come back out tonight on a short rest and turn that around. It just happened that D-Rose was here and we figured it out tonight.”
“We let them get easy looks,” Rose said. “In the first quarter, we’ve got to find a way to stop people. Guys that we know can score the ball, they’re getting too many easy looks.”
Chicago’s 14 first-half turnovers equaled its total from the previous night.