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Warriors-Clippers Preview

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin reacts after scoring during the second half in Game 5 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, Tuesday, April 29, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 113-103. (AP Ph Photo:

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin reacts after scoring during the second half in Game 5 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, Tuesday, April 29, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 113-103. (AP Ph

Stephen Curry and the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors have been one of the season's big stories, and they're excited to showcase their talents on the biggest of stages.

The Los Angeles Clippers also have earned plenty of accolades, though they're trying to put an end to a recent rough patch.

The high-scoring Pacific Division rivals will go toe-to-toe Thursday night at Staples Center in the fifth and final game of the league's much-anticipated Christmas Day slate.

"There's big moments throughout the course of the season that you enjoy," Curry said, "and you have fun showing what you can do."

Curry has averaged 23.4 points in leading Golden State to a 23-4 start - at least three fewer losses than every other team. The Warriors are third in the league in scoring with 108.1 points per game, while Los Angeles (19-10) ranks fourth at 106.8.

"They're really good," Clippers coach Doc Rivers told the NBA's official website. "But we are, too."

Golden State came out on the losing end of a seven-game, first-round series against Los Angeles this past spring, but it took this season's first meeting 121-104 on Nov. 5. Curry poured in 28 points to lead all scorers, Draymond Green added 24 and the Warriors shot a season-best 58.1 percent.

The Warriors have strung together six consecutive regular-season home victories in the series, but have dropped 15 of 20 road matchups since 2004-05 - including the last three by an average of 16.6 points.

"Playing on Christmas Day is special," forward David Lee said. "You know it's a bigger stage than a normal regular-season game would be, and we enjoy that and we enjoy the challenge of facing a good Clippers team that we beat once this year. It's two teams that have had fun the last couple years playing against one another."

Golden State has split its last four overall following a franchise-best 16-game winning streak, with both defeats coming on the road. The Warriors were handed a 115-105 loss against the Lakers on Tuesday despite Kobe Bryant getting the night off to rest.

"They kicked our (butts). They were much better than we were," said coach Steve Kerr, whose team had 20 assists negated by as many turnovers. "We weren't ready to play. We started turning the ball over immediately. We never had any energy, which is going to happen occasionally in the NBA with 82 games.

"That's where we have to improve, you have to be able to stay in games with your defense."

Aside from Tuesday's display, the Warriors have mostly shined on that end of the floor. They lead the NBA with a defensive rating of 96.9 - the number of points allowed per 100 possessions - and are holding teams to a league-low 42.2 percent shooting.

That doesn't bode well for a Clippers team that shot just 40.2 percent in Tuesday's 107-104 loss at Atlanta, their worst mark in 26 games. Los Angeles also fell 125-118 at San Antonio the night before to drop to 3-5 since Dec. 12.

"I'm fine with where we're playing," Rivers said. "It was a tough trip. I'm not going to over-analyze it."

Blake Griffin finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and a career high-tying 11 assists against the Hawks, while DeAndre Jordan scored 15 to go with 22 boards. Jordan has averaged 16.5 points on 82.8 percent shooting and 17.0 rebounds over a four-game stretch against the Warriors, including playoffs.

Despite their recent efforts, the Clippers won't be making any excuses Thursday.

"If you cant find energy for that game, that's a problem," Griffin said. "I think we'll be ready for that game."

Getting back home could make all the difference for Los Angeles, which has won each of its seven games there this month by an average of 14.7 points.

Griffin is averaging 29.6 points on 52.5 percent shooting over a five-game stretch at Staples and the Clippers are 9-1 at home when he's scored at least 21.

All-Star point guard Chris Paul is averaging 22.9 points against the Warriors since joining Los Angeles in 2011-12, his highest mark against any team during that span.

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