It’s probably a good thing that the Spurs aren’t in the same playoff bracket as the Los Angeles Clippers, as they always seem to give the guys in Silver and Black a hard time. Chris Paul, despite being hit on the head in the first play of the game, used his speed and crafty passing to dominate the game and take it away from a Spurs team that seemed disorganized and disinterested for much of the game. Gregg Popovich unexpectedly played his starters for most of the game, but they made too many mistakes to be able to beat a motivated and sharp Clippers team. Kawhi Leonard had a fantastic game for the good guys, and LaMarcus Aldridge had his moments, but it wasn’t enough, as the Silver and Black looked like they were just going through the motions towards the playoffs.
The Spurs started the game with their regular lineup, except for Jonathon Simmons, who was playing for Danny Green, out with a thigh contusion. The Clippers raced out to an early lead with nice play from JJ Redick and Chris Paul, but the Spurs, with Aldridge hitting his shots and Kawhi Leonard making baskets in traffic were able to edge into the lead, leading 23-22 after a quarter.
Pau Gasol, in his new role as three point assassin, scored the first points of the second quarter for the Spurs. But Jamal Crawford was able to get shots and hit them early. Then DeAndre Jordan got some easy dunks as the Spurs defensive rotations broke down chasing the Chris Paul and Raymond Felton. The Spurs went cold as the quarter came to a close, and a 13-3 Clippers run had the Spurs down 52-43 at the half.
The Spurs came out of the locker room with a little more focus, but the Clips got good contributions early from Luc Mbah a Moute and JJ Redick to hold onto the lead. But Kawhi started to take over with one on one play and bring them back. But three-pointers from Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili pulled the Spurs to within a basket. But the Spurs once again stumbled at the end of the quarter as the Clippers outscored them 14-4 in the last four minutes to lead 82-70.
The Spurs started the fourth with a bench lineup. And when Bryn Forbes entered the game, it seemed like the Silver and Black were going to go into end of season rest mode for the starters. But if you thought that, you were wrong, as LaMarcus and Kawhi re-entered the game with 7:28 left. But the Spurs defense continued to be porous, leading to easy layups for Blake Griffin, Mbah a Moute and DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers just out-hustled the Spurs, getting to offensive rebounds and loose balls and it was obvious that they wanted it more. The game ended 98-87, Clippers.
- With no possibility of changing their playoff position, the Spurs were only interested in keeping players sharp and ready for the playoffs, while their last three games are all meaningful for their opponents. The Clippers and Jazz are fighting for the fourth position in the Western Conference and a home playoff series, and the Trail Blazers are in a battle with the Nuggets for the final spot in the west.
- ABC kept muting the audio from the court. Much more than usual. I’m guessing that there were some words said that they didn’t want on the broadcast. In case you were wondering about the intensity of the play, that’s an indication that the players were pretty into it.
- I was interested in hearing from Geno Auriemma, but it was a distraction from the game in the second quarter. I don’t know why ABC didn’t move it to halftime or another appropriate time. But that’s really a general complaint about the ABC crew. It seems that they hardly ever pay attention to the game in front of them.
- The Andersons got tickets to the game? It’s not even a good commercial. Why is it shown about 15 times during every nationally televised game?
- I’m pretty glad that Chris Paul’s team is the 4 or 5 slot in the playoffs. He always tears up the Spurs and I wouldn’t want to meet him in the first or second round.
- I’m pretty interested in how you’re supposed to call blocking vs charging after Raymond Felton [NOTE: corrected name] jumped into LaMarcus Aldridge in the fourth and got a charging call. Is it just based on the position of the hands of the guy holding off the guy jumping into him?
Something you find something that’s not quite one thing or another, but it’s so weird it makes sense. Like a Johnny Cash tune with lyrics by the Who, sung by a clown.
The Spurs have two more games remaining in the regular season, Monday night against the Trail Blazers and Wednesday against the Jazz. The games that matter start next weekend. I’ll see you in the game threads, and maybe in person. I hope to have an South Austin playoff get together at my house for at least one game on the Grizzlies series, since the last ones were so much fun. I’ll post details after the schedule comes out, but it will probably be game 3 or 4.