Sunday night, it was the Los Angeles Clippers who looked like the second best defense in the league. They trapped Tony Parker on the pick and roll without yielding any advantage. They double-teamed Kawhi Leonard when he was in the post, and recovered when he passed out. They locked down the paint as DeAndre Jordan had enough blocks that no one would even challenge him until Manu Ginobili got a layup to drop in the third quarter.
And if all that wasn't enough, they couldn't miss from deep. Through the first three quarters, they made 61% of their threes. Early in the fourth, the Spurs made their 8th triple, tying LA, but it took them 10 more attempts to do it.
Parker and Danny Green had forgettable evenings as they were harried and halted by the Clippers' scrambling schemes. It was a physical game as the refs let a lot of contact go, but the Spurs have nothing to gripe about as they got to the line plenty but missed 12 of their 26 freebies.
The Clippers jumped out to several leads, and the Spurs answered with a run every time. But each lead stuck longer than the last one, and every comeback stalled with a bigger lead left on the board. When San Antonio's three's finally started dropping, it was already the fourth quarter, and there just wasn't enough time left to work with.
Pop went to the bench with just over three minutes left in the fourth with the Clippers up 17, and the rest was garbage time. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined for 58 points, and Jordan had 14 rebounds.
Game 2 is on Wednesday night. 8:30 pm tip-off, central time.