The Golden State Warriors have beaten the Pacific Division- rival Los Angeles Clippers twice this season and will go for the trifecta Saturday night at Staples Center.
The Warriors, who will host the Clippers in the series finale Jan. 21, have won four of the past five meetings between the teams. Golden State, though, has lost 12 of its last 17 games as the visitor against the Clips.
Golden State could alter its success as the guest in this series with how well it has played recently, winning four in a row and 15 of the last 19 games. In a 115-94 victory over the Clippers the last time out on Wednesday, Stephen Curry scored 25 of his 31 points in the first half and also posted eight assists and six rebounds, while David Lee ended with 24 points, 13 boards and seven assists.
Klay Thompson nailed five 3-pointers en route to 19 points as the Warriors shot 50 percent for the game and made 52.2 percent beyond the arc (12-of-23).
"We've come a long way this season and I thought this was a game where a lot of people were looking to see what we were made of," Lee said. "We've got these guys again on Saturday. They're a very good basketball team, we were just a little bit better tonight."
Lee has posted at least 20 points and 10 rebounds 14 times this season, while Curry has scored 20 or more points in 18 of his 23 games. Lee is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 20 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Curry owns averages of 23.7 points, 7.0 assists and 5.7 rebounds in his last seven games.
The Warriors finished with a 53-38 advantage in rebounds, but did commit a game-high 21 turnovers. The previous time they opened a season 22-10 was 1991-92 and can match last season's win total (23-43) with a victory Saturday.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson has been putting up the NBA standings in the locker room for motivation, something the team wouldn't want to see a season ago. Jackson was asked what it does for the players' mindset when seeing the standings posted.
"It doesn't really effect it because it changes every single day, but what it does it makes you aware," Jackson said. "You begin to recognize, 'Ok who do I want to win tonight or who do I want to lose.' You just become more conscious of what's going on. It's important."
The strategy must be working because Golden State is 10-1 against teams with winning records.
Meanwhile, the Clippers halted a mini two-game losing streak after winning 17 in a row with a 107-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. It was deemed a home game for the Clips, and Staples Center belonged to Chris Paul.
In what might have been his biggest statement performance of the season, Paul went off for 30 points on 11-for-25 shooting, 13 assists and six rebounds.
"It felt like, for a little stretch there, we were almost just trying to hold on," Paul said. "We were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. And that's my responsibility, me and (Blake Griffin). But we made some timely plays."
With bench dynamo Jamal Crawford out of the lineup with a sore left foot, Paul was epic. It was a performance that could be remembered come MVP voting time, but Griffin was good as well.
He scored 24 points and did a great defensive job matched up with Pau Gasol or Metta World Peace. Those two combined for four points on 2-for-12 shooting.
But it was Paul who iced the victory late. He scored the Clippers final eight points, went 7-for-7 from the foul line and lifted his side into the winner's circle.
"Chris made some big plays, some big free throws and we had a couple of stops at the end to seal it up," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "A good win for us, especially short-handed."