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Up-and-down teams clash as Clippers face Warriors

Two teams coming off vastly different finishes in Sacramento over the past 48 hours will meet for the first time this season when the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors play in San Francisco on Thursday night.

The Clippers will be riding the momentum of a Wednesday win in Sacramento, while the Warriors will enjoy the advantage of having had a day off following a loss in the California capital on Tuesday.

Golden State fans will get the new experience of seeing James Harden in a Los Angeles uniform.

Harden bombed in five 3-pointers in a 26-point performance during the Clippers' 131-117 road victory over the Kings. He played 39 minutes on the front end of a back-to-back, while Paul George (19 points) went 40 minutes and Kawhi Leonard (34 points, nine rebounds) played 37 minutes.

The Clippers, one of the NBA's load-management leaders in recent years with the long-term health of veterans George and Leonard in mind, haven't given any of their veterans -- including Russell Westbrook -- a night off this season. The game in San Francisco will cap their third back-to-back of the campaign.

The game will pit teams in an alternating-results rut. The Wednesday win was the Clippers' third victory in five games. Golden State's 124-123 defeat in Sacramento on Tuesday gave the Warriors three losses sandwiching two wins in the past five outings.

Despite the uneven results, Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue likes what he sees of the camaraderie between George, Leonard and Westbrook with new teammate Harden.

"We have a selfless team," Lue said. "They're not saying, 'Oh, he's taking too many shots. I'm not getting those shots.' We have four special guys, and they all bring something different. They're all better and unique in certain situations than the other guy is, and so we got to be able to use those talents."

With a chance of earning a spot in the NBA in-season tournament quarterfinals, the Warriors saw a 24-point lead slip away in Sacramento. One night later, the Clippers built a 25-point advantage and easily prevented a Kings repeat.

One issue Golden State had was the loss of manpower as the game progressed. Chris Paul experienced nerve pain in his lower left leg late in the first quarter and spent the rest of the night in the locker room. Two quarters later, Gary Payton II left the game for good with what later was diagnosed as a torn right calf.

Both Paul and Payton have been ruled out for the Clippers' visit. The Warriors hope to have Paul back next week, while Payton will be sidelined for a longer, but undetermined, period.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr noted Wednesday that players such as Moses Moody can be expected to get more playing time due to the two key absences.

Kerr acknowledged he wishes he had kept Moody in the game down the stretch against the Kings after the third-year guard made all his shots (4-for-4) and all his 3-point attempts (3-for-3) for the second straight game. In a win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, Moody went 4-for-4 from the floor and hit his lone trey attempt.

"Moses hits three 3s (in a late three-minute flurry) and he's rolling ... (and he) was really good defensively," Kerr said after watching a replay of the game. "(Taking him out) was a really terrible decision. I regret that one. That was definitely a mistake, and I deserve all the heat I'm taking today."

--Field Level Media

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