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Study Hall: Spurs out-execute Clippers

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The Clippers hit a ridiculously high percentage of their shots, but the Spurs' edge in ballhandling and rebounding, plus a liberal dose of Hack-a-DJ, gave the Spurs their best win of the season.

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 115, Clippers 107 - Dec 18, '15

An exciting matchup between two Western conference contenders was made all the more intriguing by last season's epic first round playoff battle. Both teams seemed to pick up right where the left off, playing with remarkable intensity and focus. The Spurs exacted their revenge thanks to the efforts of their major offseason acquisition, LaMarcus Aldridge, and strong showings from Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Tim DuncanDanny Green also contributed a solid showing, and the Spurs starting five rather uncharacteristically comprised the top 5 Adjusted Game Score contributors.

The vaunted Spurs defense struggled to slow down a prolific Clippers offense which produced an absurdly efficient 57% effective field goal percentage. Fortunately, the Spurs offense was nearly as efficient, posting a 55% mark, buoyed no doubt by a fantastic 10/19 showing from deep. The slight Clippers edge was mitigated by Gregg Popovich's liberal use of the oft-maligned Hack-a-DJ strategy.

Jeff Van Gundy threw a fit every time the Spurs fouled DJ, protesting an absurd "rule" that "rewards fouling!" And demanded that the Rockets and Clippers "expose the farce" in their next matchup by alternating hack-a-7-foot-manchild on every play of what he speculated would be a 19 hour game. Somebody send that man an ice pack - his quads must be pretty sore today from all the times he ascended his soapbox. Fortunately, I located my remote's "mute" button about halfway through, sparing myself untold agony.

For all the complaints about hack-a-DJ, and as ineffective as it has proven to be over the past two seasons (the Clippers are now 14-1 in games in which DeAndre shot more than 14 free throws), Hack-a-DJ seemed pretty effective, as San Antonio finally slowed down a Clips offense that, through three quarters, was rolling as long as Paul, Griffin, and Reddick joined Jordan. Of course it's impossible to tell how much of that was the hacking strategy, or other factors.

Chris Paul looked gassed after a series of outstanding plays in the third quarter helped the Clipper build a 6 point lead, and he wasn't quite as effective when he returned in the fourth. The Clippers rely heavily on their starting 4, regularly giving up ground when they are forced to sit, and this game appeared to follow a pattern where the Clippers stars ran out of gas late in the game as the deeper Spurs took advantage of an 8-0 run by their bench at the start of the 4th to turn a 3 point deficit into an 8 point advantage they would not relinquish.

The Spurs' didn't shoot as efficiently as the Clippers, which would have doomed their efforts, if not for their advantage in ballhandling and rebounding. The Spurs sported a BCI of 4.0 to the Clippers 2.9, turned it over just eight times to the Clippers' 10, and gained a 3.7 advantage in expected offensive boards. Those handful of extra possessions gave this one to the Spurs.

Chris Paul had another fantastic performance, but unlike last year's playoffs, a healthy Tony Parker was able to outperform him late, scoring 10 to Paul's 5 and helping San Antonio hold off the Clippers to claim their sweet revenge. It's great to see the Spurs ability to rely on Tony for big buckets in late game situations.

LaMarcus Aldridge was the Spurs best player on the night, putting up 26 points on 11-18 shooting and grabbing 13 boards to go with 3 assists and a block. He overpowered Blake Griffin in the post on a number of occasions and continues to look more comfortable within the Spurs increasingly efficient offense. The high-low game with Timmy is looking better and better, as Aldridge is often able to supplement his mid-range game with a healthy diet of freebies, courtesy of gorgeous passes from Duncan. After starting the season shooting a worrisome 43.8% from the field, LaMarcus has shot 56.1% in the month of December.

Kawhi Leonard had a relatively ho-hum game for him, putting up 19 and 9 with a pair of assists, as Luc Mbah a Moute did a solid job in limiting his looks offensively, and an assertive, effective Aldridge and Parker soaked up possessions. Still, Leonard continued to showcase his ability to hit incredibly difficult shots to bail out Spurs possessions. This one in particular blew me away:

All in all, it was a great win that felt truly cathartic as the Spurs exacted their revenge on the villains of the NBA. The Spurs move to 15-0 at home to start the year, 23-5 on the season and are finally starting to get some recognition for the way they've been picking up steam and using it to steamroll their opponents of the past month. They look to continue to roll on Monday when the face the Pacers on Monday. Go Spurs Go!

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Clippers
Shooting (eFG%) 55% 57%
Ball Handling (TO%) 9% 12%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 24% 15%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 28% 56%

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Clippers
Pace (No. of Possessions) 95.6
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.20 1.12
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.32 1.49
2-PT FG% 48.5% 54.2%
3-PT FG% 52.6% 41.7%
FT% 79.2% 62.5%
True Shooting % 58.9% 59.7%
Spurs
Clippers
Offensive Rating 119.1 113.1
Defensive Rating 113.1 119.1
Net Rating 6.0 -6.0
Spurs Clippers
Passes / poss. 3.6 2.9
% of FGA uncontested 50.6% 58.3%
Points in the paint 40 26
Second chance points 17 11
Fast break points 8 12
Spurs Clippers
Assists 25 23
Steals 7 6
Turnovers 8 10
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
4.00 2.90
Spurs Clippers
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10.3 10.0
Offensive Rebounds 10 6
Difference -0.3 -4.0

Spurs Shot Chart

Clippers Shot Chart

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
LaMarcus Aldridge 32 28.1 0.87 26 Pts (11-18 FG, 4-6 FT) 13 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 4 PF 29% 67% 122.6 121.3 1.4
Tony Parker 31 19.2 0.62 21 Pts (8-15 FG, 3-3 3PT, 2-2 FT) 1 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF 25% 58% 119.0 123.7 -4.7
Kawhi Leonard 36 17.8 0.50 19 Pts (6-14 FG, 1-3 3PT, 6-7 FT) 9 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 3 PF 23% 59% 108.7 122.5 -13.8
Tim Duncan 29 16.3 0.55 14 Pts (5-8 FG, 4-6 FT) 5 Reb (3 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 2 PF 19% 62% 124.1 127.4 -3.3
Danny Green 25 10.5 0.43 10 Pts (4-6 FG, 2-4 3PT ) 4 Reb (1 Off), 2 Blk, 1 TO, 2 PF 13% 55% 118.5 131.7 -13.2
Manu Ginobili 21 7.6 0.37 5 Pts (1-6 FG, 1-2 3PT, 2-2 FT) 1 Reb (1 Off), 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 PF 14% 50% 120.8 98.3 22.4
Jonathon Simmons 8 5.5 0.65 5 Pts (2-2 FG, 1-1 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Stl, 3 PF 10% 100% 162.8 67.1 95.7
Boris Diaw 19 4.7 0.24 3 Pts (1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-1 FT) 4 Reb (1 Off), 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF 13% 48% 112.6 95.7 16.9
Patty Mills 24 4.7 0.20 8 Pts (3-9 FG, 2-5 3PT ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO, 2 PF 18% 36% 117.3 101.3 16.0
David West 14 0.6 0.04 4 Pts (2-6 FG, ) 4 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 5 PF 23% 32% 110.8 87.1 23.7

Show Clippers Players

Spurs Index: 95.6 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 58.1% 28.1
Shooting (eFG%) 55.2% 20.5
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 85.0% 22.3
Defense (DefRtg) 113.1 17.7
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 58.3% 7.0
Total 95.6

Clippers Spurs Index: 96.7 Show Breakdown

Confused? Show Advanced Stats Glossary