A Moment in Golden State Warriors History: Christmas with the Clippers

October 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) controls the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 120-75. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
October 4, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) controls the basketball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 120-75. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Golden State Warriors hosted the Los Angeles Clippers at Oracle Arena on Christmas Day in 2013, winning 105-103.

There are two things I always do on Christmas Day.

The first thing I do is reflect. I reflect on the past year, thinking about all the good deeds I’ve done, all the good deeds I could have done, and all the good deeds I still hope to do; I reflect on everything that I was, all the things that I am, and everything I hope to be.

I reflect on all the positivity in my life, taking a moment to count my blessings, while also praying that others may also be as fortuitous; and lastly, I reflect on all the things I failed to do, accepting my shortcomings as a human being and setting goals to help better my life and the lives of those around me.

And the second thing I do? Eat, sleep, and sh*t basketball.

More from Blue Man Hoop

This year, Blue Man Hoop has given me the unique opportunity to knock out two partridges with one pear. Before the Golden State Warriors head off to face the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena this Christmas, I’ve been asked to reflect on what I believe to be the best Warriors game on Christmas Day in recent history.

Looking back at the past five years or so, the Warriors have only had three Christmas Day matchups: last year’s 89-83 win hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers, the 100-86 loss in Los Angeles the year prior, and the 105-103 victory hosting the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013.

While the Cavs win last year would certainly draw some nice parallels with this year’s heated matchup-to-be in Ohio, the 105-103 win over LAC is most definitely the most unforgettable game of the three.

Everyone knew the story leading up to the day: two of the league’s perennially bad teams were on the come up, and both had had a couple of heated (and hysterical) exchanges the year prior.

“We like them. Merry Christmas.” – Mark Jackson

We recall how the constant Warriors celebrations would strike a nerve with the Lob City vets, how former head coach Mark Jackson would get into petty exchanges with a couple Clippers players, and how physical games would be between these two soon-to-be Pacific Division titans.

One notable situation that comes to mind is the Warriors’ 115-94 win on Jan. 2, 2013. Festus Ezeli, not particularly known as an excessively physical player, grabbed Blake Griffin by the arm as the Clippers big man blew by for the dunk attempt. Griffin, in an effort to sell the call, went barreling into a flying scissor kick that could make Draymond Green green with envy. Ezeli was assessed a flagrant-2 foul call and was subsequently ejected.

“He’s a great actor,” Jackson said of Griffin after the game. “I’ve seen those KIA commercials.”

Next: Golden State Warriors Win 115-98 in LA

Another notable situation was on Oct. 31, 2013 when the Clippers won a gritty one at Staples Center 126-115. Players verbally went at each other, building its way up to physical taunts, which escalated into physical confrontations. Marcus Thompson of Bay Area News Group even reported that the teams had held separate chapel services prior to gametime, a service normally undertaken together by both teams.

“Both teams don’t really like each other,” said Clippers superstar floor general Chris Paul following the game. “It is what it is.”

“Both teams don’t really like each other. It is what it is.” – Chris Paul

A season’s worth of inner conference games followed by that one particularly heated Halloween showdown led to an epic battle at Oracle Arena. The Clippers opened the game with an 8-point lead, which was cut to just two after a 29-22 second quarter answer by Golden State.

The Clippers held a slim 78-75 lead after three quarters, and all hope for a Warriors win looked slim after Draymond Green was assessed a flagrant-2 for a backhand to Blake Griffin’s face, resulting in Green’s ejection at the end of the third.

“…[W]e want to beat them because they’re in our way. We’d like to be in their way but we really haven’t been the last two years.” – Doc Rivers

However, Griffin was assessed a technical foul on the same play, a seemingly minor infraction that came to haunt the Clippers early in the fourth quarter: In the midst of a rebounding battle against Andrew Bogut, Griffin was goaded into his second technical foul of the game, leading to Griffin’s ejection. Bogut remained in the game having just received his first and only technical foul.

A 30-25 fourth quarter effort earned the Warriors a narrow 2-point victory, after which Chris Paul would questionably try to grab the game ball being held securely by Bogut. Bogut pulled away from CP3, throwing the ball away to parts unknown.

Matt Barnes then shoved Bogut in the back, which called NBA legend Brian Scalabrine (then an assistant under Mark Jackson) into the fray. Just about everyone else in the immediate vicinity was alerted soon after, resulting in the situation below:

Chris Paul led all scorers with 26 points, adding in 11 assists. Blake Griffin posted 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists on the night, while Jamal Crawford added 19 points as the starting shooting guard. DeAndre Jordan had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Darren Collison posted 11 points off the bench.

Klay Thompson and David Lee led the way for the Warriors with 23 points a piece. Lee also had 13 rebounds and three assists, while Thompson added five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. Stephen Curry shot poorly for just 15 points, six rebounds and 11 assists, but it was his nine points in the final quarter that helped get the Warriors over the hump.

Andrew Bogut tallied a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Harrison Barnes, who had been struggling behind Andre Iguodala, contributed 14 much needed points off the bench.

The last two regular season meetings between both teams were relatively underwhelming, but it was clear that neither team liked each other in the slightest. Things kicked up a notch with Golden State meeting the Clippers in the first round of the 2014 postseason, leading to a chippy 7-game series.

The Clippers won that battle, but eventually lost the war. Warriors brass switched out Jackson for Steve Kerr, and since then, the Warriors have gone 8-1 against the Clippers, winning the past seven consecutive meetings. In addition, the Clippers have infamously been unable to make it past the second round of the playoffs, whereas the Warriors are currently 1-1 in the NBA Finals.

When asked recently by Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated where he stands on calling the Warriors and the Clippers a rivalry, LAC head coach Doc Rivers said he didn’t really care one way or the other, but can see why people on the outside-looking-in would consider them a rivalry.

“We want to beat them and they want to beat us. Not because we don’t like them, maybe we do or maybe we don’t, but we want to beat them because they’re in our way,” said Rivers. “We’d like to be in their way but we really haven’t been the last two years.”

Some believe the Clippers will best the Warriors and find a way to finally make it past the conference semifinals for their first Finals appearance in franchise history. I, however, just wish we could all go back to a time these two teams were evenly skilled.