Warriors observations: Third quarter Dubs throttle Clippers in big win

SAN FRANCISCO — There may be no truer measure of an NBA team’s legitimacy as a title contender than how it performs in a late-season home game against an opponent facing the same test.

The Warriors passed with rainbow colors Thursday night, posting a 115-91 rout of a Los Angeles Clippers team that entered the game trailing them in the Western Conference standings by a fraction of a percentage point.

Golden State’s fourth straight win moves it three games over .500 for the first time this season.

Jordan Poole scored 34 points to lead the Warriors, while Klay Thompson contributed 19 points and a season-high 11 rebounds.

With Stephen Curry back within days and perhaps Andrew Wiggins shortly thereafter, the Warriors are certainly moving toward legitimate contender status.

Here are three observations from a game that, all things considered, is one of the most impressive this season:

Another pivotal third quarter

The Warriors spent most of the first half on the ropes, limited by a long and active LA defense to 33.3 percent shooting from the field, including 13.6 percent from distance.

Then came the third quarter. The script flipped. The Warriors pulled their own defense out of the basement and used it to fuel their offense. For the second game in a row, it turned the game in their favor.

Golden State held the Clippers, who scored 55 points while shooting 50 percent in the first half, to an absurdly low 18.2 percent (4 of 22) in the third quarter. So discombobulated was LA that even open shots were bricks.

The Warriors forced seven turnovers, of which they scored 12 points. They posted a resounding 42-16 win in the quarter while shooting 52 percent, including 50 percent from deep.

JP’s turn

After a relatively mundane first half, with nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, including 0-of-3 from beyond the arc, Poole was in stitches in the third quarter.

Sizzled might be an understatement, as he scored 22 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-8 from deep and 8-of-8 from the line — all in less than 10 minutes. The Clippers were cooked.

Much of the damage JP inflicted on LA came in transition, taking advantage of excellent team defense and forced turnovers and turning them into a bucket that energized the sellout crowd.

Poole’s 34 points came on 9-of-20 from the field, including 5-of-12 from distance, and 11-of-12 from the line.

JP was very good in the win over Portland on Tuesday. He was even better this time.

Comebacks “R” Us

While the Warriors spend a lot of energy talking about the need for better defense, the Clippers strolled into their house and immediately delivered a tutorial. LA’s defense in the first half was spectacular.

The Warriors took those lessons and showed them in the second half to the Clippers. Without mercy.

Trailing by double digits in the half, the Warriors built an astounding 70-36 advantage in the second half – because their defense came to save them from themselves. LA after halftime shot 22.2 percent from the field, including 13.6 percent from distance.

This is the second straight game in which the Warriors blew a double-digit lead to win by double digits. The Clippers met the same fate as the Trail Blazers did two nights earlier.

RELATED: Draymond hilariously dares Westbrook to shoot wide-open 3-pointer

The Warriors don’t want to make a habit of this, but comebacks are good for a team’s confidence, which they’ll need down the stretch.

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