San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Chris Paul absolutely dominated long stretches of the second half, where he would score 24 points alone. He finished the night with 28 points on 9 of 18 shooting, also adding 12 assists and 5 rebounds.
That was … some interesting lineups: With the Clippers down to only 9 players in uniform for the night, a number of lineup combinations that had not been used previously were seen on the floor tonight. DeAndre Jordan shared floor time with Cole Aldrich in some stretches, and C.J. Wilcox even saw time on the floor backing up Chris Paul.
X factor: Jamal Crawford finished the game with 19 points, extending a streak where he has scored 15 or more points to a season-high nine games. It’s the longest current streak among bench players, and a feat that was matched this season only by Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets.
— Brandon Tomyoy
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Chris Paul sets up DeAndre Jordan for the oop https://t.co/FZIZRaJbMk
— The Cauldron (@TheCauldron) February 19, 2016
I enjoy those random stretches of games where DeAndre Jordan looks like the best player who has ever lived
— Pablo S. Torre (@PabloTorre) February 19, 2016
Doc Rivers: "I was very ready to go into the playoffs with Lance. I just thought if we could upgrade — like a Jeff Green — I would."
— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) February 19, 2016
Check Your Messages
Ordinarily, when an opposing team posts their lowest-scoring half of the season, you hang your hat on your own team’s defensive pressure, and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Tonight? Eeeeehhhhh, not so much.
Although the Clippers led by 8 at halftime, with 44 to San Antonio’s 36, it seemed like the score should be much lower, what with all the missed shots, or much higher, given all the turnovers. Ultimately, it was just one more bizarre statistic in a night that was chock full of them as both teams struggled to knock off the accumulated rust of a week off (or spent in All-Star Weekend revelry).
This is just one of those wins you accept graciously, while accepting that there’s no deeper truth to be gleaned of a win over the Spurs missing Kawhi Leonard. It was a wonky sort of game, but it sure was fun. Let’s all enjoy – then batten down the hatches, because the real work is right around the corner.
Off the Hook
You may hear folks making excuses about who wasn’t playing for the Spurs tonight in L.A.’s 19-point win. Or you may here how it was a trap game for the Spurs, being on the road for the front end of a STAPLES Center back-to-back. You may even have folks talking about how the extended All-Star break was a detriment to San Antonio’s success Thursday night.
And I’m gonna tell y’all to chill with that for a night.
Look, I thought the Clippers would come out and drop both of these games this week. Lance Stephenson getting traded for a player who wouldn’t arrive in time hurt on a night where Austin Rivers and Pablo Prigioni were both unavailable. Kawhi Leonard’s absence was a major factor for the Spurs, as they gave up 63 second-half points tonight. But you can’t really talk about the Spurs being down a player and omit Blake Griffin’s absence at the same time. And the best player on the floor tonight, PG Chris Paul, started opposite Tony Parker and dropped 28 on his squad’s head – after playing in Sunday’s All-Star Practice and flying in from a memorial service held earlier in the day.
I hate hearing Clippers excuses as to why they lose games. Fortunately, the trolls don’t readily make them for the Clippers. But for a team that has finished to close the deal against the top five teams in the NBA, the Clippers should get credit for handling their business against the Spurs. This was the best win of the season, and it comes after their worst loss of the season in Boston.
And here’s something to take into Saturday’s marquee matchup against the defending champs: The Clippers combined margin of defeat in five games against the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder is now only -1.