By Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange – UPI
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors will seek to continue their recent mastery of the Los Angeles Clippers when the two top teams in the Pacific Division meet for the second time in five days on Wednesday night.
The Warriors have beaten the Clippers 12 straight times, including 121-105 on Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles.
Only three NBA teams have a longer active winning streak against a single opponent. Oklahoma City has won 17 in a row against Philadelphia, while the Los Angeles Lakers have lost their last 14 to both Dallas and Portland.
The Warriors’ 12th straight over the Clippers was an especially painful defeat for Los Angeles. It lost star forward Blake Griffin in the game to a concussion.
Griffin sat out Monday’s 108-107 home win over the Atlanta Hawks, and is unlikely to be cleared for Wednesday’s rematch with the Warriors.
Facing the Warriors in recent years has not been a pleasant experience for Griffin. Counting Saturday’s five-point effort in just 10 minutes, he’s been held to 12 points or fewer in three of his last six meetings with the Warriors, and had 16 points on a fourth occasion.
He’s made only 32 of his 78 shots (41 percent) over that stretch.
The Clippers were missing a total of 72.6 points per game in injured players Monday against the Hawks, which gave Tyrone Wallace, who signed a two-way contract on Saturday, an opportunity to shine.
The former University of California standout will return to the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday night on the heels of 13- and 11-point contests in his first two NBA games, including Saturday against Golden State.
Wallace admitted after Monday’s game against Atlanta that getting some friendly advice from another of the Clippers’ injured players, Austin Rivers, helped bring out the best in him in the second half.
“He just told me to be aggressive,” Wallace said of an in-game chat. “He said he thought I was passive. I think he knows how I play and I play aggressive, so he just told me to go out there and play my game, and that’s what I tried to do from that point on.”
The Warriors’ injury situation isn’t nearly as serious as that of the Clippers. But one big issue remains unresolved: the health of star forward Kevin Durant.
Durant has missed the last three games with a strained right calf. He was a full participant in a light workout Tuesday and now appears likely to return on Wednesday night.
One player who has taken advantage of additional minutes created by Durant’s absence has been Nick Young, a former Clipper. He has totaled 30 points in his last three games off the bench, his best stretch since November.
“Nick brings a joy to the game and to the team,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr gushed after Monday’s 124-114 win over Denver. “He’s just one of the most care-free guys I’ve ever seen. He wears that joy on his face when he makes shots. He just loves playing basketball and gets it going a little bit. Our whole team enjoys watching that process. He’s great. A really fun guy to have on the team and he’s playing really well for us.”
The Warriors have won five in a row to move 14 games ahead of the Clippers atop the Pacific Division standings.