This was far and way the toughest team the Spurs had faced at the AT&T Center so far. The Clippers got off to a quick start, and hit four of their first seven shots to go up 11-4. LaMarcus Aldridge was active on offense right from the tip, and had six of the Spurs' first eight points. SA took the lead at 19-18 with an 11-4 run once the rest of the starters got going, and LAC wanted a time-out.
Blake Griffin carried the Clippers in the first, playing nearly the entire quarter with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. A 12-5 burst from LAC in the final minutes gave them a 30-26 lead at the end of one. The Spurs allowed 30 first quarter points for the second game in a row, due to the Clippers shooting 55% from the field.
The fast pace continued to start the second quarter, and the Spurs gained a five point lead. The differences in the two team's benches was evident as SA was able to quickly regain the lead when Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan sat. Those three had to come back in shortly after without much rest, and the level of play evened back up. The lead went back and fourth as both teams went on small runs, and the first half ended tied up at 55. Griffin led all scorers with 13, and Aldridge had 12.
The frequent lead changes continued in the second half. Griffin couldn't seem to miss while Paul and JJ Redick were having good shooting nights as well. The Spurs had more of a balanced scoring line, with all five starters in double figures just a few minutes into the third quarter. Both teams were shooting crazy-well, and the high scoring reflected that. The Clippers had the slight edge, though, and took the lead.
The game slowed down once the Spurs began hacking DeAndre towards the end of the quarter. It took about 15 real-time minutes to get through the final couple minutes of game time, but the Spurs were able to slowly but surely decrease the deficit, and found themselves down 88-85 going into the fourth. The Spurs' starters combined for 68 points through the first three quarters. LaMarcus led with 20.
The Spurs' second unit immediately took advantage of the Clippers sitting DeAndre, Griffin, and Paul to start the fourth, and jumped out to a three point lead that led to a LAC time-out. The Spurs came out still hot, and extended the lead to eight with an 11-0 run. The game slowed down once again when SA began hacking Jordan with more than eight minutes left to go, but Doc Rivers wouldn't take him out.
The Spurs gained some momentum, but the Clippers stayed in it. The play from both Paul and Tony Parker was fantastic throughout the whole game. A huge offensive rebound from Parker with under a minute left gave the Spurs an extra possession. Off of a Tony miss, Duncan got the tip-in to give the Spurs a six point lead with 30 seconds left, and the game was sealed.
So, the Spurs come out on top in a classic rematch of the 1st round of last season's Western Conference Finals, improve to 23-5, and stay perfect at home.
GIF of the Night:
Tim Duncan is still mad that he missed that bunny. I love that about him. pic.twitter.com/RSagcZ5eTK— Chris Itz (@Chris_Itz1) December 19, 2015