Clip­pers in a familiar po­si­tion go­ing into Game 4 vs. War­riors

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY AN­DREW GREIF

One of the sweet­est parts of the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers’ up­start sea­son has been mea­sur­ing the gap be­tween out­side ex­pec­ta­tions and their own.

Odds­mak­ers picked the Clip­pers to win 35 games in the pre­sea­son. They won 48.

In a league in which teams’ abil­ity to con­tend for the ti­tle di­rectly cor­re­lates with how many al­lNBA play­ers they have, the Clip­pers be­came only the fourth team in NBA his­tory to win at least 45 games without a cur­rent or for­mer All-Star on their ros­ter.

Few, if any, out­siders pro­jected the Clip­pers to make the post­sea­son. Play­ers and coaches say they be­lieved they be­longed since Septem­ber.

Cir­cum­stances feel sim­i­lar en­ter­ing Sun­day’s Game 4 of their firstround play­off se­ries against Golden State.

Be­hind a 38-point per­for­mance from Kevin Du­rant, the top-seeded War­riors re­asserted con­trol with a 27-point vic­tory in Game 3 to grab a 2-1 se­ries lead. The per­for­mance re­deemed Golden State fol­low­ing its his­toric col­lapse in Game 2.

The Clip­pers left frus­trated – yet not re­signed to be­ing brushed aside by the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons.

“They did what any good team would do, re­spond to kind of get­ting em­bar­rassed, I guess,” guard Landry Shamet said. “That’s how we would look at it. That’s how we feel right now, feel em­bar­rassed. Hope­fully we can come out Game 4 with a lit­tle bet­ter in­ten­sity and mind­set.” Bogut a fac­tor – War­riors cen­ter An­drew Bogut said, “I feel like some­times we think we’re more tal­ented than most teams and we’re just go­ing to turn it on when we have to. That’s a dan­ger­ous game to play, es­pe­cially in the play­offs. We re­al­ized that in Game 2 and I think we fixed that.”

Coach Steve Kerr called Bogut, who re­joined the War­riors for a sec­ond stint in March, a “god­send” for his rim pro­tec­tion, which hin­dered Ivica Zubac’s pro­duc­tion in Game 3 and con­trib­uted to the Clip­pers’ ar­ray of missed op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Af­ter the Clip­pers faced Bogut and his Aus­tralian league team in an ex­hi­bi­tion in Septem­ber, coach Doc Rivers told team pres­i­dent Lawrence Frank that Bogut be­longed back in the NBA.

MARK J. TERRILL AP

Los An­ge­les Clip­pers’ Lou Wil­liams, left, shoots as Golden State War­riors’ Kevin Du­rant, sec­ond from left, Dray­mond Green and An­dre Iguo­dala de­fend in Game 3 in Los An­ge­les on Thurs­day. Du­rant scored 38 points in the War­riors’ 132-105 win.

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