OAKLAND -- The Clippers are bigger and better than the Warriors and emphasize the first part, please.

Sure, the Warriors kept trying in Game 3 on Thursday, but they kept getting swatted, squished and otherwise pummeled into the hardwood.

They were too small. They were too slow. They were too tentative for too long in this pivotal game.

And eventually, even after the Warriors made a last mad run, they were picked up by the Clippers and sent away.

Just like NBA giants do to lesser, smaller folk.

That was the story of the Clippers' 98-96 victory at noisy Oracle Arena in this pivotal Game 3, giving the Clippers a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) dribbles against Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin (32) in the first quarter of Game 3 of their
Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) dribbles against Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin (32) in the first quarter of Game 3 of their Western Conference NBA playoff game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. on Thursday, April 24, 2014. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) ( Ray Chavez )

And -- with Warriors center Andrew Bogut sidelined by injury -- it's turning out to be the story of this series and the potential end of the Warriors season.

"It's frustrating, but it's not over," guard Stephen Curry said. "We understand that there's still plenty of time for us to get control of this series back.

"Obviously it's a must-win in Game 4 on Sunday."

The Warriors couldn't win this one from the outside because they made only 6 of their 31 3-point attempts, most of those coming in the big late rally.

They had to find easier baskets -- but they couldn't because the Clippers big men wouldn't let them.

And the Warriors had to stop Blake Griffin at some point -- and they couldn't.


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It's not that Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and a few other Warriors didn't take their swings, though.

They were just not big enough to take it all the way and now the Clippers are in full control with a chance for a near kill-shot in Game 4.

On Thursday, the Warriors biggest players -- Jermaine O'Neal, David Lee and Marreese Speights -- just couldn't deal with the Clippers' front line straight up.

Curry & Co. kept swinging and swinging all the way through the furious final moments, when Curry's 3-pointer made it 96-93 with 49 seconds left.

After this big late charge, the Warriors had a shot at the end when Curry took a 3-pointer with a few seconds left -- which would've won it.

But Curry was bumped by Chris Paul, no foul was called, the shot fell short, and the clock hit 0:00, game over.

Paul, who had been gesturing to the Warriors bench for much of the final few minutes, also exchanged glares and words with one of the Warriors assistant coaches after the buzzer.

"Chris and one of my assistants have since Game 2 had some dialogue -- just competing, that's all," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.

Was it a foul?

"Well, you're supposed to be able to land -- clearly, he wasn't able to," Jackson said of Curry. "(But) I'm not looking for an apology (from the league) tomorrow."

The point was the Warriors needed a miracle to win this game because their normal lineup couldn't handle Clippers big men DeAndre Jordan and Griffin.

Couldn't do it early on, couldn't do it in the middle of the game and couldn't do in the third quarter, when the Clippers looked like they were toying with the Warriors at times.

Griffin ended up with 32 points and 8 rebounds and Jordan finished with 14 points, 22 rebounds and 5 blocks.

"We're giving him some different looks," Jackson said of Griffin, "he's making some difficult shots."

The Warriors had to take Lee off Griffin in the third quarter and Green had some run of success, though Griffin did keep scoring.

Meanwhile, Lee (6 for 15 from the floor) and the other Warriors players had a terrible time trying to score inside whenever Jordan was in the game.

At times, it looked like the Warriors were flinching against Jordan's defensive intimidation.

"You're right," Jackson said. "I thought Klay did a great job of attacking his body and finishing. Other than that, we're doing a bad job of forcing him to make plays.

"If you allow him to be an athlete, he's going to disrupt."

The Warriors allowed Jordan to be an athlete, allowed Griffin to maneuver inside and outside, and allowed themselves to get hammered down by larger, better players.

The Clippers are bigger and better than the Warriors, both of those things, and that's what they've proven on their way to taking over this series.

And making the Warriors look small.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.