San Antonio Spurs take a win from Clippers

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The San Antonio Spurs were here in the Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Clippers. As the World Champions, the Spurs have a lot to carry with their title and right now the Spurs are going through a rough spot in their schedule. Before Monday’s game, the Spurs had three losses and only two wins, and they hadn’t even seen the best teams in the NBA yet.

Boris Diaw scoring in the first quarter for the San Antonio Spurs. (YouTube)
Boris Diaw scoring in the first quarter for the San Antonio Spurs.

The Clippers had four wins and two losses going into last night’s game, but they too have been having trouble, losing to Sacramento here in the Staples Center and to the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. They have had inconsistent play from the entire team, which can put them in tough situations if stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are having off nights.

The Clippers never had the chance to meet the Spurs in the playoffs so Monday’s game was a little test to see how they can handle a championship team. If the Spurs got on track with their championship form, the Clippers could have had a long night here at home. But if the Clippers were firing on all cylinders, it would at least be a close game.

It proved to be just that: a low scoring defensive game that didn’t see the lead change much, the Clippers looking as if they would put another “W” on their home court record. At the end of the first quarter L.A. was ahead, 20-14 and five Clippers had contributed to the scoring.

San Antonio came back in the second quarter, getting great efforts from Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, who had nine points in the quarter and Kawhi Leonard, who scored eight points. But the Clippers still led at the half 42-39. The Spurs didn’t score any three-pointers in the first half and only two in the second.

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after the game. (Claudia Gestro)
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after the game.
(Claudia Gestro)

When the third quarter ended the Clippers were back to having a six point lead. But then in the fourth quarter the Spurs began to take control of the game. Tony Parker played big, scoring 10 points and San Antonio went on a 12-0 scoring streak.

With two minutes left in the game the Clippers were in the lead, but only by one point. Both teams had great defensive efforts, but in those final two minutes the Spurs tightened theirs a little more, holding the Clippers to just three free throws by Jamal Crawford.

The Spurs went ahead on a Kawhi Leonard layup and followed that with scores by Boris Diaw, Ginobili and two free throws from Leonard to finish the game, 89-85, Spurs.

Blake Griffin called for a time-out, but the Clippers didn’t have any left, almost like a sign L.A. didn’t have anything left in the tank against San Antonio. The Spurs got the technical free throw, but Tony Parker missed.

Claudia Gestro
Claudia Gestro

When you look at the stats, there were plenty of turnovers and several Clippers were able to get some steals. DeAndre Jordan had two. But the Spurs definitely won in the turnovers. Boris Diaw had three steals, a blocked shot and two rebounds. Tim Duncan had 11 rebounds and a blocked shot to go with his 18 points. Kawhi Leonard had 10 rebounds, three assists, one blocked shot and three steals to go along with his 26 points.

After the game, when asked about his team improving from last year, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovic said, “We’ll never play any better than the last three games in Miami (against the Heat in the NBA Finals). We can’t play any better than that, both ends of the floor. If we got to the level I’d be thrilled. But we’ll see.”

In the end, the Spurs pulled out a win against a very good team. They showed some championship form coming together in the final quarter to take the game away from the Clippers.

L.A. gets to rest for a few days; they won’t play again until Saturday when they face the Phoenix Suns here in the Staples Center.