Now with Clippers, Kawhi Leonard spoils Warriors fun again
By JANIE McCAULEY
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Kawhi Leonard sure knows how to spoil Golden State's fun.
Leonard did it again in the Warriors' first game at Chase Center just like in their farewell at Oracle Arena four months ago, scoring 21 points in three quarters to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 141-122 victory Thursday on opening night at Golden State's snazzy new arena.
Reigning NBA Finals MVP Leonard shot 9 for 17 and also dished out nine assists in his second game with L.A. after leading the Toronto Raptors to their first title last season in a six-game finals against the Warriors.
"I thought he started doing it in the second round last year," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "In the first round he was just dominating and then I thought as each round went on he started playmaking more and more, but what he's doing now is on another level."
Stephen Curry scored 23 points but committed eight turnovers and D'Angelo Russell added 20 points in his Golden State debut, but the Warriors got beat up the way they used to do it against the entire NBA - even giving up a 46-point third quarter.
"They hit us with our typical third quarter type of vibe," Curry said.
What a dud for the Dubs as they formally opened new Chase Center in San Francisco after 47 years at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
In a rematch of the hard-fought first-round playoff series last season won by the Warriors in six games on their way to a fifth straight finals, the Clippers jumped to a 14-0 lead making 5 of their first 6 shots. Golden State started 0 for 6 and missed four 3s. Russell's jumper at 8:23 gave Golden State its first points and he scored the Warriors' initial seven before Curry hit a 3 at 6:42.
The Warriors got a scare when they briefly lost Draymond Green at the 9:03 mark of the opening quarter after he injured his right elbow on a screen, and it was sore all night because of a nerve issue. Green returned to the court at the start of the second and wound up with 11 points.
Curry, who at 31 is the oldest Warriors player, was 2 of 11 on 3s as new-look Golden State went 15 for 42 from deep. Kevin Durant is long gone and so are several other key veterans part of the recent Warriors championship runs.
"I'm sure the film session tomorrow won't be pretty," Curry said.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr is embracing the move and new arena - he's still figuring his way around the building - but noted "I'll miss everything about Oracle. It's a great place to play."
Some fans left after the third quarter with the home team trailing 111-87.
There will be plenty more lumps along the way for this young group, with Kerr noting, "This is not a one off."
"This is more the reality of the NBA. The last five years we've been living in a world that isn't supposed to exist," Kerr said.
Leonard and Patrick Beverley were booed during pregame introductions for the Clippers, who beat the Lakers 112-102 in their opener Tuesday with Leonard scoring 30 points on 10-for-19 shooting.
Clippers: Los Angeles shot 56.8% in the first half (21 of 37), making 6 of 11 3s. ... The Clippers were outrebounded 23-20 in the first half and 42-39 overall. ... G Rodney McGruder missed his second straight game with a high right ankle sprain. ... The Clippers scored 58 points in the paint.
Warriors: Golden State called a late timeout when it had none remaining, resulting in a technical foul. ... Kevon Looney started at center for the Warriors after working back from a strained right hamstring then dealt with right hamstring tightness in the second half and didn't return as a precautionary move. The hope had been he would play about 20 minutes with four stretches of five minutes or so, Kerr said. ... Kerr challenged a foul call on Looney late in the first half and the call was upheld. ... The Warriors had won the last three at home against the Clippers.
Newly enshrined Hall of Famer Al Attles, who will be 83 next month, took part in a ceremonial tipoff just before the ball actually went up. Attles joined the organization in 1960 and played in the Philadelphia Warriors in Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game on March 2, 1962.
Injured Splash Brother Klay Thompson, who could miss the entire season recovering from surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee, spoke to the fans at midcourt before the game. He also shared a hug and a few words with Leonard.
Construction workers who built Chase Center held the flag for the national anthem.
Kerr joked he might need to wear his key card around his neck even on game nights.
"I've been locked out of my office a couple times after games, true story," he said. "... We're slowly but surely figuring those things out."
Rivers hardly considers Curry past his prime beginning his 11th NBA season.
"I want him to get older. I'm all for the 40 Steph, I can't wait for that one," Rivers quipped. "He'll still be playing because he can shoot. He just won't be as agile I don't think. He's been around a long time. It's amazing when you think about it how quickly it goes."
Clippers: At Suns on Saturday having won the last 12 meetings overall and six straight in Phoenix.
Warriors: At Thunder on Sunday having won 11 straight road games in the regular season and two in a row at Oklahoma City.
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Updated October 25, 2019