San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: It was the Blake Griffin and Chris Paul show. Griffin (27 points) and Paul (23 points) were the engines that made the Clippers go offensively, and the Spurs were unable to stop either of them.
Defining moment: After trailing 31-21 early in the second quarter, Los Angeles went on a 19-0 run to turn the tide of the game in their favor. San Antonio played from behind the rest of the way.
X factor: Turnovers short-circuited the Spurs’ offense in the second quarter during the Clippers 19-0 run. San Antonio committed six turnovers in a span of five minutes. Looking back on it, that proved to be their undoing.
– Eddy Rivera
Tweet(s) of the Night
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) December 17, 2013
The Championship Belt
Blake Griffin with the leather “championship belt” the Clippers won from the Spurs tonight. pic.twitter.com/R50QozISrx
— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) December 17, 2013
The Depth Charge
|Byron Mullens, C||0||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ryan Hollins, C||2||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||2||2||0||0||0||1||2||0||0|
|Antawn Jamison, PF||7||0-1||0-0||0-0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||2||-3||0|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Fred says DeAndre Jordan has been a top-15 defensive player this season, which leads to Andrew’s favorite segment, the impromptu mock draft.
Check Your Messages
To Be Continued…
The San Antonio Spurs have historically been a thorn in Chris Paul’s side, knocking him out of the playoffs twice in his career. A part of the reason for the Spurs’ success is that they guard Paul well on one end, and tire him out by having him chase Tony Parker around on the other. One way or another, Gregg Popovich is an expert at finding out ways to disrupt a superstar’s groove.
Tonight, Chris Paul had one of his best games against the Spurs, and scored eight straight points (including three straight mid-range jumpers) at the end of the first quarter when it looked like Spurs were absolutely going to dismantle the Clippers. The Clippers routed the Spurs for a much-needed victory, but I remain cautious, as should Paul.
Remember Tony Parker left with an injury early in the game and never returned. But Popovich may have found another Paul-flaw. Popovich threw Kawhi Leonard on Chris Paul during most of the first quarter, and Paul had trouble getting to his spots. Paul’s scoring barrage occurred after Leonard was on the bench — Leonard was never matched up against Paul again for the rest of the night. Popovich holds his cards tight until the real games count, so perhaps he had seen everything he needed to see in the Paul-Leonard matchup, and if the early returns are any sign, I doubt it will be the last time we see it.
– Davis Vo
Kudos to Griffin and His Energy
Blake Griffin scored a beautiful and efficient eight points in the third quarter. But it wasn’t just his offense that affected the game. After a layup on one end, Griffin sprinted back to take a charge from Kawhi Leonard. He was exhausted and probably breathing harder than anyone on the floor, but the effort didn’t go unnoticed. He even traveled a few plays later, likely as a result of the fatigue. In fact, Griffin played the entire third quarter except the final 14 seconds. It didn’t matter that he scored no points in the last quarter. His 27 points and hustle play on the charge were enough to make a difference. Plus, it never really got close at the end.
– Aaron Fischman
If a slump never ended, it wouldn’t be a slump. It seemed like the Clippers hit one of those slumps collectively after the J.J. Redick injury. And now, it seems like it is collectively ending.
The Clippers are shooting 54 percent from the field over their past two games. They are making 45 percent of their threes. They’re getting to the line 33 times a game. Jared Dudley is starting to play like Jared Dudley. The bench is playing actual, cohesive basketball. Willie J. Green is hitting threes. It’s all coming together.
Maybe it’s a result of Jamal Crawford entering the starting lineup, but realistically, the jump in production is too drastic for such a small move to be the sole cause for such a substantial improvement. At this point, let’s just say the slump is over and leave it at that.
– Fred Katz
Bench Fuels Game-Changing Run
Trailing 31-21 in the second quarter, the bench unit in the game, the Clippers could have wilted under the pressure. Instead, a game-altering 19-0 run erupted from the backups, providing a cushion for the starters to finish the job. Of those 19 points, 12 were scored by members of the second unit. Oft-criticized Willie Green nailed a couple 3’s, and even Captain Jack had two field goals during the stretch. It was offense fueled in large part by their defense, which forced five turnovers over that period…and let’s remember this was all in a span of less than four minutes.
The Clippers shot past the Spurs to a 40-31 lead, never again relinquishing their grip on the game. Yeah, it got within a point in the third and within three points in the fourth a few times, but the lead never went away. For a team like the Clippers that hadn’t notched a signature win since November, the value in playing with a lead against an elite team cannot be underestimated.
– Aaron Fischman
Who Protects the Rim Protector
While the Clippers pitched a second straight defensive gem, it was when DeAndre Jordan exited that gave pause for concern.
When Jordan departed at the 3:18 mark of the first quarter, the Spurs promptly got three shots at the rim (a Duncan layup, a Parker layup and a Diaw turnaround) and an offensive putback.
And Jordan’s third quarter defensive absence from frustrations and foul troubles was palpable, preventing the Clippers from capitalizing on their first half success (the Clippers were +2 in the third quarter). Which reminds us that as well as the bench has been playing, as well as Stephen Jackson and Antawn Jamison have acquitted themselves as smallball power fowards, Los Angeles remains longing for another backup big. And one of the functions of that mysterious big has to be rim protection.
– Andrew Han
Blake Griffin Keeps the Spurs Guessing
Though that wasn’t always the case on the road trip, the Clippers finally unleashed Griffin against San Antonio. Griffin agrees with the Rivers’ preseason mandate to face up defenders and attack, but has also said that consideration of the one-on-one matchup should also govern his play. Some guys are easier to burn off the dribble, while others can be overpowered in the post. Some defenders will play for the drive and give him space at midrange, others will bite. When Griffin is at his best, he’s generally seeing the game in those terms, something Rivers has come to appreciate.
– Kevin Arnovitz, at ESPN.com’s Daily Dime
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