Well, that was disappointing. Honestly, I didn't really expect the Spurs to win this game. But against this Clippers team that is full of players I don't like, I really wanted the Good Guys to win. Unfortunately, the Spurs continue to struggle against the better teams in the league.
The game started out well enough, and the two teams played a close, if somewhat sloppy, beginning to this one. At one point during the first, the Clippers missed eight constitutive shots, due to decent defense from the Spurs - though they got some help as the Clips missed a couple open looks. The Spurs had a 16-8 lead before Blake Griffin got the best of Diaw on a post-up and found an easy layup waiting for him to stop the bleeding for the LA.
With something like three minutes left in the first. both offenses started to have some success and the Spurs took a 28-21 lead into the second.
The first two minutes of the second didn't see a point scored on either side until the 9:30 mark when Patty Mills connected on a three-ball to give the Spurs a 31-21 lead. At that point the Clippers went on a 19-to-0 run, which saw the Spurs turn the ball over FIVE times, while only taking three shots. At the end of this run DeAndre Jordan blocked a Boris Diaw attempt about 12 feet off of the ground and sprinted the length of the court to finish an alley-oop. Jordan is quite the athlete, but outside of his athleticism his game is pretty weak (he's lacking as a defender, has no post moves, and is laughable at the free-throw line). Danny Green promptly turned the ball over with a bad pass on the next play, and Willie Green knocked down a three-ball giving the Clips a nine-point lead. In four minutes, the Spurs saw a 10-point lead turn into a nine-point deficit.
Is Roy Hibbert too good for rule of verticality?
Roy Hibbert is the league's best rim protector and is the key to Indiana's league-best defense, but has he reached the point where his reputation for challenging shots without fouling has allowed him to get away with committing fouls?
The Good Guys put together an 8-to-2 run and then Timmy had an uncontested dunk. Which he missed ... it was just one of those nights. Chris Paul knocked down a couple of nice buckets, and Manu Ginobili answered with a had a couple of his own as he tried to keep his team in this one. The Spurs finished the quarter trailing six at halftime.
Both teams started the third looking out of rhythm for the first couple of minutes. Again. The Spurs, in a play that might have resulted in a three, miscommunicated on a pass that ended up out of bounds (this happened at least three times in this game). That is very unSpurslike.
There was a sequence where DeAndre fouled Duncan, got whistled for a tech on the next play, and was then caught with an illegal screen on the following play. That was his fourth foul, and it sent him to the bench. On the ensuing play Duncan found Kawhi with a nice feed for an easy layup. The Spurs cut the lead to just one at this point. This was the closest they could come Monday night. The two teams responded with several empty possessions, and every time the boys cut the lead close for the rest of the game, the Clippers responded. Jamal Crawford knocked down a three, and on the next possession Tony Parker got to the line and air-balled a free throw. What?! I can't recall that ever happening. The basket was unkind to the Spurs tonight, as a bunch of shots just barely rimmed out.
Tony banged his knee/shin in the middle of the period and after a couple more plays he left the game with 5:09 remaining in the third and was unable to return. Let's hope it's not bad and that Tony can return soon.
With a limited Tiago and Tony out of the game with an injury, the Spurs couldn't come back. The Spurs gave a decent effort, but were much too sloppy and the effort they gave was less than LA's. The Clips won the rebounding battle by seven and turned the ball over four less times than SA. Both teams were sloppy with the ball in this one, but the Spurs won the sloppiest award. The availability of Tiago and the injury to Tony were a setback for the Good Guys, but the Clippers outworked and out-executed the Spurs in the contest.
Los Angeles took an eight-point lead into the fourth and added fifteen more to it by the end of the game. Tonight the Spurs faced another good team, and they were unable to play their kind of game. I'm not too concerned by it, but at this point I can't help but at least consider their inability to win against good teams in the chances they've had so far. There is still a bunch of basketball to be played before anything really matters, and I'm not going to panic in mid-December.
- Tiago, in his first game back after missing the last four with a calf injury, played only 19 minutes tonight. I'm not positive he was limited by his injury, but against the huge Clippers front-line he was missed. We'll need him against the Morris brothers and Plum Dog on Wednesday when the Spurs visit the Suns.
- It was the fourth worst free-throw shooting team that made their freebies tonight. The Clips went 26-of-35 from the charity stripe, which isn't even great, but the Spurs went just 12-of-21. The Spurs average 16 FT's a night, which is already concerning, but only hitting 57% of them is horrible. The Spurs need to get to the line more, and make them when they get there. Tiago looked like Jordan tonight, and the Clipper's big went 3-for-6 while Tiago missed all four of his attempts.
- Chris Paul had 23 points on 13 shots. I don't care for his demeanor on the court, but he's certainly a great basketball player. He also had eight boards, seven assists, and four steals.
- Blake Griffin is one of my least favorite players. I don't like his griping and preening. He's one of those super-athletic players that lacks a real post game and isn't a good defender. Kind of the anti-Duncan. Tonight he was pretty good, finishing with 27 points and nine rebounds. I don't like that.
- Timmy was solid. He's been solid for nine games now. If you want to take anything positive away from this game, take this: Tim is averaging 17 - 11.6 - 3.3 with 1.7 blocks on 57% shooting in his last nine games. All of that early season, "Is Tim done?" nonsense can surely be put to bed. I get kind of worried about the slow start, but c'mon, we're any of you really concerned about The Consistent One? If you are one of those with a short memory, let this game remind you that Tim Duncan is forever.
- Stephen Jackson is back in the league. I don't know how you guys feel about that guy, but I love him. His unfortunate departure last season made me sad. I wasn't angry about it, nor did I have any lasting negative feelings about the guy. I certainly don't think cutting him was the wrong decision by PATFO. He HAD to go. I was just disappointed. Very disappointed in SJAX and his inability to keep his ego in check to win a ring. We all have our flaws, and it's just too bad that his ego couldn't let him exist as part of something bigger than himself. That unwavering belief in himself is probably what makes him such a clutch performer, as well as also being the thing that wouldn't allow him to accept his role...I wish he hadn't gone to this stupid Clippers team because I don't want to root for any part of them, but mostly because I think he adds a scary element to their team in clutch situations down the road. Anyway, he finished with six points (3-of-5) in 17 minutes. This is not the Jackson I fear, it is the game-six* Jackson that worries me.
The Spurs lose the belt, lose to the media-darling Clips, and fall to 19-5. This wasn't the most fun night.
You can view the Clipper fan's perspective at Clips Nation.
The Spurs visit the red-hot Suns on Wednesday to play their sixth game of a SEGATENI (that's seven games in ten nights, if you're not familiar with how we do it here - though that might be the first time we've ever referred to that particular one). On Thursday the Spurs visit the Dubs. Hopefully this club can get a couple quality wins before returning home.
*A history of Stephen Jackson in Game 6
- 2003 Western Conference Finals: Jackson scored a game-high 24 points, making five of San Antonio's 10 3-pointers, on a night when Tim Duncan was constantly double- and triple-teamed. He was a key part of San Antonio's 34-9 comeback fourth quarter victory. This was the game that Kerr his those back-to-back-to-back-to-back threes.
- 2003 NBA Finals: Perhaps lost in the memory of Tim's should-be quadruple-double, and The Admiral leaving the court a champion, is Stephen's game. With the Spurs trailing by nine halfway through the fourth, Jackson hit three three-pointers during the run that won it all, including the one that gave the Spurs their first lead of the game.
- 2007 Western Conference First Round: Playing for Golden State, Jackson dropped a game-high 33 on the top-seeded Mavericks to knock them out of the playoffs in a huge upset. He was 7-of-8 from deep and played a team-high 44 minutes.
- 2012 Western Conference Finals: Stephen Jackson scores 23, going 6-for-7 on threes, and at times seemed like the only player for the Spurs keeping them in the game.