The San Antonio Spurs likely got a strong talking-to from Gregg Popovich after their lackadaisical effort the previous night in Sacramento, and they responded strong with a blowout win over a Los Angeles Clippers squad that had just gotten Paul George back from injury. Once the Spurs got up 4-3 in the opening moments, they never looked back as they outscored the Clippers by 27 points in the first three quarters and never let up (outside a few complacent moments in the fourth quarter) for the 116-92 win.
Dejounte Murray had a nice bounce-back game with his franchise-record sixth triple-double of the season, scoring 24 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists, and 4 steals. Jakob Poeltl and Keldon Johnson also posted double-doubles. For the Clippers, George led the way 25 points (but only 3-9 from three), and Ivica Zubac had a 12-12 double-double of his own.
- Maybe the Spurs should just play superior teams for the rest of the season, since they appear to respect better opponents more, and as a result they started this game much stronger than they did in Sacramento. The three-pointer wasn’t there for the Spurs in the first quarter, but they kept attacking the paint where they outscored the Clippers 24-14 to take a 35-27 lead. Another advantage came via Jakob Poeltl, who is the league-leader in offensive rebounds, and he had three in just the first quarter for 5 second-chance points. It was a good sign, since coming into the game the Spurs were 10-5 when winning the first quarter but 1-13 when tied or behind.
- Jock Landale was once again the first big off bench in the first quarter, and he immediately sparked the Spurs offense with a three. He also got a dunk on the pick-and-roll from Murray plus another three for eight first quarter points off the bench. Having a stretch five that opposing teams don’t know to guard is definitely a huge boost the offense. If you need an example of how rare that has been for this team, he became the first Spurs rookie center to hit multiple threes in a game.
- The lid was on the basket for both teams to start the second quarter, but the Spurs were able to grind their way to a 13-point lead before the Clippers responded with back-to-back open threes, leading to a Pop timeout with about five minutes left in the half. Both teams’ offense picked up from there, but it was back-to-back threes from Murray that pushed the Spurs to a 62-48 halftime lead, and the two shots couldn’t have been more different. The first came with Murray just standing at the top of the arc when a long offensive rebound bounced to him, and he nonchalantly threw up there with a “why not” attitude, and it went in. The second came in transition, where he forced one up with 27 sec in an attempt to go two-for-one.
- The Spurs started the third quarter hot and never let up, expanding their lead to a game-high (at the time) 27 points at 92-65. The Clippers looked dejected throughout as the Spurs never let up. A big factor was all the hustle stats. By the end of the quarter, the Spurs led the following: rebounds (52-33), points in the paint (54-34), second chance points (19-3), fast break points (16-5), and points off turnovers (10-0).
- The one advantage the Clippers had on the night was at the free throw line, where they got 20 attempts (making 15) to just the Spurs’ 6. It’s not always easy to win games with such a big disadvantage in free points, so all the more credit to the Spurs.
- I was happy to see Landale be the first big off the bench in the second half as well. In the last game, he played the first half while Eubanks did the second, so I was worried Pop would continue that trend in this game even though Landale had it going. Fortunately, he did what I hoped and stuck with the player that was hot. (For the record, if Landale didn’t have anything going, then I would be fine with Pop giving Eubanks a chance.)
- The Spurs got a little complacent after pushing the lead to 30 in the fourth quarter, as shots stopped falling, and the Clippers started winning 50-50 balls and getting to the line, setting off an 11-2 run. This forced a Pop timeout with the lead trimmed down to 21 with 7 minutes left. The Spurs still struggled to shoot, but the defense re-tightened and the hustle picked back up as they kept attacking the offensive glass. They soon regained control of the game, and Pop was able to empty the bench with the Spurs up 27 with four minutes left.
- The Spurs had 37 assists on the night. Not only do the Spurs currently have the second-longest streak in the league of games with 20 or more assists behind the Warriors, but Bill Land reported that the Spurs are undefeated since 1990 when getting 35 of more assists in a game. On one hand, that makes sense considering 35 assists means the team had a pretty good shooting night. On the other, that is still an absolutely wild stat.
For the Clippers fans’ perspective, please visit Clips Nation.
The Spurs will get two days off to explore the City of Angels before taking on the Lakers on Thursday. Tipoff will be at 9:30 PM CT on KENS 5.