San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Patty Mills. With Tony Parker out for the time being, the Spurs will lean on Mills for a perimeter scoring punch. Against the Clippers, Mills posted a standout line of 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting, five rebounds and five assists.
X factor: Chris Paul’s rough night. Not far removed from a shoulder injury, Paul struggled from the field, shooting 1-for-10 from the floor for just 11 points in almost 38 minutes against the Spurs.
That was … finally a win over a contender the Spurs can build on: It’s no secret that San Antonio has struggled against the league’s top teams this season. For the Spurs to steal a game at Staples against the Clippers without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, it means a lot.
– Andrew McNeill
Tweet(s) of the Night
Pop said he turned the channel from the All-Star Game to watch Downton Abbey once Tony Parker checked out.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) February 19, 2014
Blake Griffin trying to prove he's Top 5. Might be.
— Chris Palmer (@ChrisPalmerNBA) February 19, 2014
Pop joined the media scrum and asked Duncan if he's retiring. Duncan: "Yes. Tomorrow." (His serious answer is he isn't thinking about it).
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) February 19, 2014
The Depth Charge
|Byron Mullens, C||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Ryan Hollins, C||5||1-1||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||-1||2|
|Antawn Jamison, PF||DNP COACH’S DECISION|
|Hedo Turkoglu, PF||10||0-2||0-0||0-0||1||1||2||0||1||0||0||2||-12||0|
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Patrick makes his triumphant return to CBL, and Andrew is questioned by a Staples Center security guard and then asked to move elsewhere in a hilariously awkward moment at the 9:40 mark.
Check Your Messages
The Clippers’ usual defense didn’t work particularly well against San Antonio’s unparalleled motion for the first three quarters of Tuesday’s loss. So in the fourth, the Clips got creative in trying to make a comeback. They started hedging farther away from the rim than they had all game. They aggressively trapped. They tried to jump passing lanes. But none of it really worked against the disciplined offense of the Spurs.
Watch out for that as a theme in the future. We’ve seen the Clippers defense improve throughout the year, but still, there have been struggles against the smartest, best-coached offenses. Maybe becoming more aggressive is a strategy Doc Rivers tries again down the line against a Spurs-like team. If he does, he better hope for improved help off those traps and hedges.
- Fred Katz
I’ve Never Given Someone A Third Chance
The Clippers run the fast break in the truest sense. They fly down the floor at great speeds with a finale oftentimes resulting in the destruction of material objects and frail human psyches. Embracing the fast break is a strategic choice that grooves with the best offensive characteristics of most the team’s lineups. It lends itself to quick hitting threes off the initial break or on a drive-and-kick as well as the acrobatics of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. But the fast-break lifestyle comes at a cost, and Gregg Popovich made the Clippers pay.
With a defensive rebounding rate of 73 percent (i.e. the percentage of available rebounds the defense retrieved), the Clippers are the third worst defensive rebounding team in the league. This looks bad, but it’s part of a calculation made by Doc Rivers to increase his team’s total fast-break opportunities.
The Clippers’ defensive rebounding against the Spurs, however, was particularly bad and against a particularly bad offensive rebounding team. The Spurs have the sixth-lowest offensive rebounding rate in the league at 22 percent, but they lifted it to 29 percent against the Clippers. The problem here is that giving the Spurs a second chance to ignite the Popovich offensive system will always lead to defensive lapses. The team is too disciplined not to take advantage of their coach’s ability to exploit his opponent’s style of play.
- Michael Shagrin
The entire Spurs experience seems like a finger in the eye to the very idea of players having a defined and knowable level of skill. Knowing nothing about the teams at the outset, which team resembled the one missing three starters? It is a continuing testament to Pop and general manager R.C. Buford that San Antonio is able to create serviceable (or better than!) rotation players seemingly out of thin air. Merely by identifying players with useful skills, and asking them to do the things they are best at and only those things, another unknown hero emerges. Of course it doesn’t work without the Tim Duncan/Tony Parker superstructure. And this being only the Spurs’ second win of the season versus a team considered a genuine contender, these replacement parts are only sufficient against the league’s replacement teams.
The Clippers have managed to emulate the broad strokes of the San Antonio machine — a strong-willed coach, a world class point guard and an increasingly unguardable force of nature at power forward. But despite the best efforts, the attempts to surround this core with these same interchangeable and rearrangeable pieces has yet to bear fruit. As of right now, Matt Barnes and Jared Dudley are the palest of imitations of the rugged, limited yet wise wing players which opponents have come to loathe year after playoff year. And of course, the “Spursiest” of the Clippers additions, J.J. Reddick remains sidelined.
But, as the perpetual motion machine that is the San Antonio offense whirs, spins and spits out nothing but layups and corner threes regardless of whether it’s Tony Parker, Patty Mills or even for brief moments Shannon Brown at the wheel, maybe it’s not the players? One naturally wonders that if the jerseys were somehow swapped, Dudley would be proudly showing off his 3-point Shootout trophy while Marco Belinelli quietly answered questions about another disappointing shooting night.
- Seth Partnow
Burning The Candle At Both Ends
Throughout Tuesday night’s broadcast, much was made of Chris Paul’s busy All-Star weekend — the appearances and events and promotional duties. It’s reasonable, we were told, to expect Paul would struggle through some inevitable fatigue (he did). It’s natural, we heard, for him to be a step slow (he was).
But all that rationalization begs the question: Why can’t Paul take the weekend off? Or, rather, does he want to? The strategy worked for Blake Griffin, who was vocal about carving out some much-needed rest time over the weekend. To wit, he was stellar both Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night.
Previous Clippers teams relied too heavily on Paul playing hero ball down the stretch of close games. With how gassed and hesitant to shoot he looked Tuesday, that wasn’t even an option. Now, there’s probably a false equivalency in comparing hero ball to the burdens of extracurriculars. But either way, the concern is that Chris Paul is spread too thin. Despite his “Point God” nickname, the dude is in fact human. It’s just hard to keep that in mind when you’re conditioned to expect divinity.
- Patrick James