OAKLAND -- Mark Jackson and Doc Rivers both insist that the Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers don't really have a rivalry just yet.

But the players clearly don't buy into their coaches' dialogue, and their meetings are sure starting to feel special. After an offensive free-for-all in their first meeting in October, Wednesday night's Christmas meeting was a tight, edgy, physical affair the Warriors ultimately won 105-103 at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors clung to that two-point lead for the final 1:09 after Harrison Barnes made two free throws to put them ahead. Clippers star guard Chris Paul missed two layups inside the final minute, then Klay Thompson blocked a Paul runner with one second left and followed up by defending Jamal Crawford's 3-point desperation try as the buzzer sounded.

It was an electric finish for a game that was highly charged in other ways in the late third quarter and early fourth. Clearly, these teams don't seem to like each other much, and that was reinforced once again at the end of the third quarter, when the Warriors' Draymond Green and Clippers' Blake Griffin had to be restrained from one another.

Green was ejected for a Flagrant 2 foul after officials reviewed the film, and Griffin was also assessed a technical. That proved to be crucial early in the fourth, when Griffin and Warriors center Andrew Bogut locked up underneath the Clippers' basket, touching off a mild skirmish in which Bogut received a flagrant foul but Griffin picked up his second technical and was ejected with 10:42 left in the game.


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The Clippers, to be blunt, thought the Warriors' strategy on Griffin was purposeful, one reason another skirmish broke out at the end of the game in front of the Warriors bench.

"If you look at it, I didn't do anything and I got thrown out of the game," said Griffin, scored 20 points. "It all boils down to (the referees) fell for it. To me it's cowardly basketball. I don't know their intentions, but it worked."

From Jackson's perspective, it's what to be expected in a Western Conference battle between two teams from the same state.

"It was a tough, hard-fought game, but I still believe it's not a rivalry because neither one of us has done anything," said Jackson. "It was two teams competing with an edge. It's just physical basketball, good old-fashioned basketball -- fouls, hard fouls, screens, two teams playing for something."

To be sure, it had a playoff feel to it down the stretch. The score was tied 78-all at the point Griffin was ejected, but the Warriors still couldn't shake the Clippers. The two teams exchanged the lead seven times in the fourth quarter and the score was tied eight different times over the final.

But then came Thompson's defensive stand at the finish.

"I thought Klay's defense was stellar all night long," Jackson said. "He's guarding a superstar basketball player and he's trying to make life tough, contesting shots and fighting through screens. He was very disciplined, and his length kept him in the plays.

Thompson also broke out of his offensive slump, scoring 23 points on 10 of 22 shooting. It was his first 20-point outing in nine games, and he was joined by David Lee, who also scored 23. Stephen Curry had an off night shooting, hitting just 5 of 17 shots, but he poured in a 3-pointer with 2:20 left and followed up with a layup. He also had 11 assists and just two turnovers after committing 11 in the two teams' first meeting.

It was a victory that could prove pivotal. For one thing, it was the Warriors' third straight win, something they haven't accomplished in over a month. It also snapped a five-game winning streak by the Clippers, who got 26 points and 11 assists from Paul.

The Warriors did not lead in the entire first half, but after a late first-half surge, jumped in front 56-55 on an offensive tip-in by Bogut 57 seconds into the third quarter. It was a back-and-forth battle the rest of the way.

  • Bogut and Lee entered the game having grabbed at least 10 rebounds in the nine straight games, the first duo to accomplish that feat since Moses Malone and Charles Barkley for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1986.

    Bogut then collected 12 first-half rebounds and Lee joined him in double figures in the third quarter to become to duo to go 10 straight since Rich Kelley and Truck Robinson for the New Orleans Jazz in 1978.

  • Veteran center Jermaine O'Neal was present at a game for the first time since his Dec. 13 surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist.

    O'Neal was sporting a large cast covering his forearm, but the cast will be removed Thursday and he will begin his rehabilitation next week in Oakland while the team is on its seven-game road trip.

    Follow Carl Steward on Twitter at twitter.com/stewardsfolly.