Los Angeles Clippers
San Antonio Spurs
MVP: Before the game, Kawhi Leonard received his trophy for the 2015 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. During the game, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP had a career night as a scorer, putting up 32 points on 18 shots in 29 minutes. He had it all going: iso drives, spot up threes, pull-up jumpers, and-ones, and a one-handed oop finish out of nowhere. Spurs fans haven’t seen that last one before. The Clippers will have to wait until Sunday to react themselves.
That was … offensive: As in, offensive to watch, not a great offensive display. The Clippers didn’t face a 20-point deficit in the first half despite shooting so poorly. San Antonio had separate runs of 11-2, 7-0 and 9-1 in the first half, but the Clippers survived that to get to halftime down 46-38. But then Kawhi Leonard outscored the Clippers 13-11 in the third quarter. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick combined to shoot 2-of-12 from the field in the third quarter, with two assists and three turnovers. The Spurs have cute videos about their offense, but they held the league’s best offense to a season-low 73 points.
X factor: This is the part where we talk about the Clippers bench and Spurs bench being the biggest mismatch in the series. Garbage time meant extra Clippers bench time, but the L.A. reserves shot an abominable 11-of-41 from the field (27 percent), including 1-of-11 from Jamal Crawford. Led by Boris Diaw’s 15 points, the Spurs reserves outscored the Clippers 45-30.
— Law Murray
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Doc Rivers Takes & Makes Shot During Timeout https://t.co/MaQp9QUshs
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) April 25, 2015
On the night he's awarded KIA Defensive POY, Kawhi Leonard pours in a career-high 32 pts. None bigger than these two: http://t.co/5KUH5smkvD
— ESPN (@espn) April 25, 2015
— Mike Monroe (@Monroe_SA) April 25, 2015
Everyone asks what will the Clippers do if they get knocked out early again. Adding a couple of reserves that can play isn't a bad start.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 25, 2015
What happened while I was H8ting tonite? Oh! Da SPURS put foot to dat Clipper Ass!!! SPURMOCIDE…death by, you know!
— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) April 25, 2015
Check Your Messages
Let’s get this out of the way to begin with: the Spurs are really, really good. Historically good. Gregg Popovich will go down as one of the best coaches in the history of the NBA, and San Antonio is the model franchise that other franchises follow as a blueprint for success. This is widely accepted.
Among the other things widely accepted? The Clippers bench is not very good. Doc Rivers has made decisions as a GM that are worthy of debate, if not outright criticism. The players brought in during the off-season have not found success, and some are no longer with the team. To mention these at this point in the season would be a surprise to very few.
To point out these foibles of the Clippers in tonight’s blowout at the hand of the Spurs, however, serve only as a discredit to just how good the Spurs really are. A bad Clippers bench is not the reason why the starters missed shots. Doc the GM is not the reason why the constant movement of the Spurs offense left the Clippers starters defensive rotations in disarray. That Spencer Hawes is not contributing is not the reason that Kawhi Leonard played so well on both ends of the floor tonight.
It’s absolutely justified to be upset that the Clippers have missed opportunities to address deficiencies within the team and roster, but first and foremost this was a game that Popovich and his players won.
– Brandon Tomyoy
One Way to Rest Up
The blog is quiet tonight!
I can imagine folks are shook up by the Clippers laying a complete egg in South Texas Friday night. It’s great to watch awesome defenses go to work and completely destroy gameplans – unless you like offensive basketball. Or the Clippers.
People weren’t expecting Chris Paul to have seven points on 11 shots with only four assists and six turnovers. After the show Blake Griffin put on earlier this series, 14 points on 15 shots wasn’t supposed to be the follow-up. DeAndre Jordan didn’t even attempt a free throw, and it was the ugliest performance by the starters all year!
But … the Clippers already blew Game 2. In a way, that took some of the urgency from this game down. The Clippers have already lost home court advantage. They’ll have to get a win at San Antonio at some point. Is this a discouraging performance for them? Yes. Can they bounce back is the question, though. Unlike, well, every other first round series this year, we have intrigue going into Game 4. Instead of, you know, a prospective sweep.
Now, the Clippers have a quick turnaround Sunday. They’ll have to get ready for a 12:30pm PT start, so that luxury of having time off going into Games 1 and 2 will be a distant memory by then. But getting blown out means you get some rest. Being down 2-1 means you get some added urgency. Scoring only 73 points means you get some focus. The Clippers may have taken Game 3 for granted. Game 4 will be different.
It’s a best of 7 series – perhaps the only one that has a chance to go the distance. That’s what you all wanted! Right?
– Law Murray