LOS ANGELES — Remember joy?
The Warriors’ long-lost friend returned to the team Thursday night.
Maybe it was those big “31” tattoos that all the Warriors got to remind them forever of the Game 2 meltdown when they blew a 31-point lead and lost to the Clippers
If they didn’t really get any such tattoos, they should have. One way or another, that Game 2 collapse is burned into their skin.
Something got the Warriors back in their old joyful groove, and if they can sustain it, the Clippers and future opponents are in trouble.
It was a ferocious joy. When Klay Thompson drove to the hoop and threw down a dunk late in the second quarter, he landed snarling, then swinging his fist, as L.A. head coach Doc Rivers called for a timeout that would not stop the bleeding.
Two minutes later, Kevin Durant took a pass from Andre Iguodala and slashed to the hoop for a finger-roll layup. Durant was fouled, and Iguodala met him at the free-throw line. They glared at one another and slapped palms so hard it sounded like a gunshot from my seat 20 feet behind the baseline, even over the artificial din.
When Iguodala buried one of his two 3-pointers in that first half, he glided back downcourt, bending low, his wings extended. Symbolic, because the Warriors had cleared themselves for takeoff.
Joy suits this crew well. It’s what has carried the Warriors to three NBA championships in four seasons, but it’s something that has been missing much of this season, even as the Warriors were playing their way to the top seed in the Western Conference.
In the previous couple of days, the Warriors had talked about how they played well in the first game of this series, and for the first half of the game they blew. OK, but they were not dominant in Game 1, and they didn’t play Games 1 or 2...