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San Antonio vs. Los Angeles, Final Score: Spurs start Rodeo Road Trip with come-from-ahead loss, 108-105

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Spurs lose yet another game after being ahead by double digits.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers
In the battle of former teammates, Leonard and the Clippers took the season series
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers took the final regular season meeting behind their stars Paul George (19 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists) and Kawhi Leonard (22 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds). LaMarcus Aldridge (27 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists), DeMar DeRozan (26 points and 5 rebounds), and Patty Mills (18 points) valiantly carried the team on their shoulders, but San Antonio was not able to fend off a late onslaught by Los Angeles.

Observations

  • Pounders - what are we hoping happens before the Trade Deadline? Since Aldridge and Rudy Gay have each clearly lost a step, it may behoove San Antonio to find an active big to bolster the frontcourt. It surprises me to hear that the Clippers are trying to find another rotation player despite having two of the top ten players in the league.
  • NBA TV Analyst (and former coach) Mike Fratello continues to be an entertaining and informative voice on the air.
  • Clippers players that would have made solid rotation players for San Antonio? Patrick Beverley. He seems to have embraced the Bruce Bowen ‘spot up three’ component of the offense for the Clippers on top of his hounding defense. Beverley had three long-distance shots in the first quarter. Lou Williams also would have made a great bench contributor in the manner of Patty Mills.
  • Trey Lyles connected early on a straightaway three. Lyles shortly after made a left-handed escape dribble to sidestep a Clipper closeout and hit cleanly on a pull-up.
  • Instead of Shakira and J-Lo committing a wardrobe malfunction last night in the Super Bowl, it was Jakob Poeltl who tried checking into the game late in the first period clad in only a tanktop and shorts. He sheepishly ran back into the locker room to fetch his jersey. When Poeltl did have his uniform on he erased shots on two straight Clippers possessions and left the Los Angeles perimeter players thinking twice about their baseline cuts and dribble drives.
  • After watching Gonzaga and Santa Clara chuck brick-after-open-brick last Thursday, it’s a wonder how diminutive guard Patty Mills can shoot so well from behind-the-arc in perpetually confined spaces.
  • Had Aldridge started embracing and taking threes several seasons earlier, perhaps the 2016-2017 seasons may have resulted in a different outcome with Leonard having more room to operate with?
  • Derrick White needs to get All-NBA defensive team consideration. White drew the unenviable task of guarding Leonard for many of his minutes.
  • Lonnie Walker IV needs to make an impact in his limited minutes on this road trip. It matters to see him logging minutes late in the fourth quarter in close games like this.
  • The Clippers, going back to the Lob City era, continue to lead the league in toddler-like scowls and anguished expressions on foul calls.
  • One of my favorite Spurs/Clippers memories - San Antonio’s 24-0 run during game 3 of the 2012 Western Conference semifinals that turned an early huge deficit into a 69-57 margin that propelled the Spurs eventually to a series sweep. Young wings Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green combined to go 8-for-13 from the field in that game.
  • Beverley and Maurice Harkless bombed away from distance for the hosts in the first, while the Spurs started well from the field with all of its points supplied by LaMarcus Aldridge, DeRozan, Lyles, and Bryn Forbes. A late 10-0 San Antonio run helped the Spurs surge ahead to 39-29 after the opening stanza. When Poeltl found some success defending drives at the rim, the Clippers started involving Montrezl Harrell on high pick-and-rolls to take the big man out of the paint and garner some easy baskets for Harrell and George. DeRozan carried San Antonio with all manners of conversions as his teammates went cold from the field. Leonard asserted himself and finessed a three-point play on a Forbes touch foul to close the game to five. DeRozan continued being comfortable with the Staples Center rims and his fadeaway at the buzzer pushed the Spurs to 63-54 at the break.
  • The Clippers athleticism bothered San Antonio in the halfcourt to start the third quarter, and Los Angeles scored the first seven points. Ivica Zubac was the beneficiary of others’ generosity and tied the game on consecutive dunks. While San Antonio missed its eighth straight shot, George converted an acrobatic and-1 to give the Clippers their first lead since 14-12. Aldridge and Forbes were again subbed out early as Los Angeles suffocated the Spurs offense. A DeRozan elbow from his non-shooting hand hit George’s nose on a drive, and the offensive foul not only cost the Spurs two points, but was inexplicably upgraded to a ‘Flagrant 1’ by Zach Zarba. A Mills three in transition after a series of sloppy plays briefly gave the Spurs the lead back. Former Spur JaMychal Green hit a late three to put the Clippers ahead 85-82 at the end of a frenetic third period.
  • An Aldridge three to beat the shotclock temporarily gave the Spurs a four point lead. A fifth foul call on Aldridge was challenged by Pop and Secaucus overturned the call - rescinding the fifth foul and awarding the possession to San Antonio. Aldridge picked up that fifth foul shortly contesting a George drive after he crossed over Forbes. Walker IV blocked a Harrell dunk attempt and Aldridge executed his second straight signature left block fadeaway to put San Antonio up 97-95. An after timeout three by Mills pushed the lead to two possessions, but a Beverley corner three and a Leonard dunk in transition gave the Clippers the lead for good.
  • A difficult three from White appeared to beat the shot clock, but was overturned quickly because the ball was still at the tip of his fingers at expiration. A George stepback jumper gave the Clippers a crucial four-point advantage. Yet another Mills three after Pop’s final timeout chopped the deficit to one. Williams made two free throw attempts and White’s halfcourt attempt fell a few feet short.

For the Clippers fans perspective, please go to Clips Nation.

The Spurs return to the Staples Center tomorrow night for a SEGABABA against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on TNT at 9:00 PM CT.