Hate is such a strong word. In fact, if my mother reads this I expect a call from her telling me that the Los Angeles
I-Hate-These-Freaking-Guys Clippers are probably sweet people, and they have mothers who love them. She'd be right, too. BUT RIGHT NOW I DON'T CARE, MOM!
San Antonio's first game back after the All-Star break, and third game of the Rodeo Road Trip, found the Spurs making their first visit to the Staples Center to play the Clippers since the heartbreaking end to last season, returning to the scene of the Game 7 crime. Both teams were short-handed in this matchup, as the Spurs were without Kawhi Leonard with tightness in his left calf, and the Clippers, who punctuated this year's trade deadline by turning Lance Stephenson and a first round pick into Jeff Green, only dressed ten healthy players.
After Paul Pierce hit two consecutive shots to put the Clippers up 5-0 early, Kyle Anderson - who started in the absence of Leonard - made a smooth-looking mid-range jumper, then assisted on a beautiful drop-off to LaMarcus Aldridge in transition for an easy lay-in. And then this game started looking very much like the first game back from an extended break. Without Kawhi, the Spurs made a concerted effort to get Aldridge the ball early in possessions against DeAndre Jordan. It didn't work very well, as Aldridge went 1-5 from the floor in the first, but you have to appreciate the effort. The Clippers then proceeded to commit three offensive fouls on moving screens in four possessions, and the Spurs looked up at the scoreboard at the six-minute mark of the first quarter to find themselves having only scored six points. And then they looked up three minutes later... and they still had six points. The quarter was salvaged slightly after a nifty up-and-under layup from Rasual Butler was followed by a Jonathon Simmons dunk off of a Clippers turnover, and Diaw hit a three-pointer to make the score 21-15 in favor of the Clippers at the end of the first quarter.
Another look at that J Simms slam https://t.co/AGcJdLLpth— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 19, 2016
A brief power outage at the ten minute mark of the second quarter was the only interesting part of this quarter. The Spurs just did not have it going in the first half. They followed up a 33% shooting performance in the first quarter with 36% shooting in second and though the Clippers had 13 turnovers in the first half (as opposed to only six for the Spurs), San Antonio couldn't take advantage of the extra possessions, and were down 42-34 after two. The 34 points were the lowest point total in a half for the Spurs all season long, and Cole Aldrich was probably the best player on the floor in the first half, if that gives you any indication of what this game looked like early.
The Spurs opened up the second half with more of the same disinterest, allowing jump shot after jump shot to the Clips, who after a 10-2 run all of a sudden found themselves up by 16 points. The lead swelled to as many as 20 points, as the Clippers extended their lead to 62-42 with just under six minutes to go in the third quarter, at which point Pop decided to stop pussyfooting around and inserted Boban Marjanovic. Clearly sparked by the presence of such an awesome human being, the Spurs promptly closed the quarter on a 21-10 run, with David West canning a buzzer-beating three to cut the lead back down to single digits.
West began the fourth quarter right where he left off, converting an old-fashioned three-point play to further cut the lead to 72-66. After a Tony Parker made free throw cut the lead down to five, both teams traded buckets back and forth... until Chris Paul remembered he was the best player on the court and detonated all over the place. He scored 15 of his game-high 28 points in that final quarter, and the Clippers quickly put the kibosh on any hopes of a Spurs' comeback. The Spurs dug themselves into such a huge hole early, and worked so hard to dig themselves out of it that they just didn't have the energy to respond to another L.A. run, ultimately giving up the ghost in a 105-86 loss.
I hate these freaking guys.
Your Three Stars:
Well... there were only three Spurs with a positive plus-minus in this game, so I'll just go with them in order.
1. Boban Marjanovic: 6 points, 3 rebounds, +12 in 9 minutes
2. David West: 12 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, +9 in 18 minutes
3. Patty Mills: 9 points, 2 assists, +5 in 25 minutes
To remind all of you that basketball is supposed to be fun (and because it involves two out of your three "stars!"):
The Spurs pack up for the long journey to the Staples Center, and take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.