LOS ANGELES -- The Golden State Warriors shot as dreadfully in the fourth quarter as the Clippers did in the first. As a result, the team with the NBA's best record absorbed its fifth loss of the season and second at Staples Center in three days.
"Wow, that was ugly," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Neither team shot the ball well. It really came down to mental toughness -- having the ability to hang in there. And we did that. It's nice winning games when you don't play great. In the first half, we had shots that I would take all day. They just didn't go in."
The Warriors held the Clippers to 4-for-24 shooting in the opening quarter and 39.1 percent for the game, two nights after the Lakers shot 51.7 percent without Kobe Bryant to beat them 115-105. That loss ended a streak of 27 straight games by the Warriors in which they held opponents under 50 percent.
"We're not invincible," Warriors point guard Stephen Curry said. "We have to play the way we're supposed to play -- at our highest level -- in order to win games. It you don't, you're susceptible to getting beat. But we're a good team. These last two games haven't shown our full potential, but it's important not to overreact to losing two games in a row."
The Clippers, beginning a nine-game homestand after back-to-back losses to San Antonio and Atlanta, haven't dropped three in a row since March 29-April 1, 2013. Blake Griffin missed his first eight shots and was 5 for 16 overall with 18 points and 15 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had 14 points and 12 boards.
"I think we were shooting 17 percent at the end of the first quarter, or something like that. And we were only down by two. So we just tried to stay the course," Paul said. "Our defense helped us win the game. It was a good win for us."
Golden State has lost three of five following a 23-3 start that included a franchise-record 16-game winning streak. The Warriors still lead them by four games in the standings.
Klay Thompson scored 15 points, and Curry added 14 for Golden State. Center Andrew Bogut missed his eighth straight game because of an injured right knee. The Warriors, who missed 13 of their first 15 shots in the fourth quarter, went more than 6 1/2 minutes without a field goal until Justin Holiday's 3-pointer with 2:39 to play.
"We went small, and that was very effective for us," Rivers said. "We kind of stumbled on a couple of things that we liked and reran it -- ran it into the ground. Tonight we settled on one thing, and it was working. We didn't try to trick it up. We basically ran it in the fourth quarter for almost six straight minutes and got production out of it."
The Clippers missed 16 consecutive shots after Jordan's game-opening dunk, but the Warriors could do no better than a 20-18 after one quarter. Crawford ended the Clippers' field goal drought on a 15-footer with 3:18 left in the period. Last season's Sixth Man of the Year scored nine points during a 3:13 span to help the Clippers build an 86-74 lead with 7:27 left.
"That's what he does. He's done that time and time again," Griffin said. "Sometimes he picks up the scoring slack all by himself. That's how he was tonight."
Paul set up Jordan's reverse slam dunk with an alley-oop lob, then embarrassed Curry with a slick crossover dribble that resulted in a three-point play and followed that up with a 3-pointer -- all in a 1:24 span -- to give Los Angeles a 67-61 lead with 3:52 left in the third quarter.
The Clippers trailed just 42-41 at halftime, despite missing 34 of 47 shots and falling behind by as many as 11 points. Griffin ended his shooting drought with a slam dunk that cut the Warriors' lead to 34-28 with 4:01 left in the second quarter. J.J. Redick missed his first five attempts before hitting a 3-pointer with 48.2 seconds left in the half, and Paul sank two free throws to cap a 9-0 run.
Warriors: The franchise record on Christmas is 9-14, including a 4-9 mark since the Warriors relocated from Philadelphia to the Bay Area for the 1962-63 season. ... The visiting team has lost the last nine regular-season meetings between the teams since the Warriors' 114-110 win at Staples Center on Nov. 3, 2012. ... The Warriors were eliminated by the Clippers in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, losing in seven games.
Clippers: The Clippers are 5-8 on Christmas. This was their fifth Christmas game in the last six years and third against the Warriors, who hosted the other two. ... The Clippers have now beaten the Warriors at least once in 28 consecutive seasons since 1987-88, their longest such streak against any club. . ...Jordan's grandmother was in attendance on her 80th birthday, and received a huge hand from the sellout crowd when she was introduced during a timeout in the second quarter.
Warriors: Host Minnesota on Saturday night.
Clippers: Host Toronto on Saturday night.
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