The shorthanded Clippers silenced the slumping Spurs, 85-98, sweeping their two-game mini-series with San Antonio and handing them a season-high fourth consecutive loss.
Reggie Jackson led Los Angeles with a career-high 28 points, closely followed by 24 points and 13 rebounds from Paul George. DeMar DeRozan paced the Silver and Black with 23 points and four boards.
- DeMar DeRozan only needed four points to overtake Hall of Famer Grant Hill for 96th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, and he doubled that total in the first quarter alone. The twelfth-year pro is also on pace to pass Chris Webber, Kevin McHale, Steve Nash, Earl Monroe, Jason Kidd, and Magic Johnson on the all-time scoring list by the end of the season. And while individual achievement deserves celebration, the Spurs would probably prefer if it came alongside a postseason appearance.
- The highly anticipated NBA trade deadline passed earlier today, and unlike most seasons, PATFO pulled the trigger on a deal. Those who were hoping for a significant transaction centered around LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, or Rudy Gay were likely disappointed. REgardless, San Antonio made their first midseason deal since 2014, acquiring former lottery selection Marquese Chriss from the Golden State Warriors. And if you were wondering why you didn’t see the big man in action tonight, it’s because he suffered a season-ending leg injury in December.
- Clippers coach Ty Lue unsuccessful used his coach’s challenge in an attempt to overturn a blocking call after DeMar DeRozan blatantly used his off-arm to displace the smaller Terance Mann. Even as a full-throttle Spurs supporter, I have difficulty understanding how the referees concluded to uphold their original whistle. This officiating blurs the lines of the already confusing contact initiation rules. It’s no wonder why we’ve seen an all-time high in points per game across the league this season, but there’s no denying offense sells.
- Coach Pop also used his coach’s challenge to a much better result. It was a do-or-die decision that gave San Antonio another shot at staying in the game down the stretch. Though they avoided a pair of Paul George free throws, the Spurs couldn’t stop the Clippers from knocking down some clutch buckets when it mattered most.
- The Silver and Black entered the evening sporting the sixth-worst third-quarter differential in the NBA (-50) and fell to the fifth-worst after being outscored by ten points in the third frame. San Antonio’s offense managed just 13 points after their ball-movement stagnated in the half-court. More pedestrian returns from halftime could spell trouble for the Spurs should they qualify for the playoffs.
- Although Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, and Lou Williams combined for 61 points in San Antonio’s Wednesday night loss, the trio had precisely 0 points in the third go-round between these Western Conference foes. Their absence on the box score was tied directly to their absence from the game, and the Clippers found other contributors who stepped up to fill their scoring void. Paul George and Reggie Jackson came together for 52 points to help Los Angeles improve to 8-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
- Dejounte Murray was spectacular throughout the contest, stuffing the stat sheet and falling tantalizingly short of his third triple-double of the season. Not only has the fourth-year point guard maintained his status as an elite on-ball defender, but he has expanded his game as a genuine floor general for the Spurs. Murray dropped a beautiful pocket pass dime to Jakob Poeltl out of the pick-and-roll, and these plays highlight his continued growth as a facilitator.
- I love San Antonio’s fiesta jerseys a little more every time I watch the Spurs suit up in their throwback colors. Nike could have overdone the pink, teal, and orange and transformed these threads into a sherbet-reminiscent monstrosity. Instead, they flawlessly blended the classic jet black with just enough fiesta flare to arguably create one of the five best uniforms in the NBA. I’ve already spent more than I care to admit on fiesta merch, and I haven’t bought a jersey yet.
- Jakob Poeltl missed a couple of point-blank bunnies. And while it was certainly frustrating to see the Austrian center misfire from literal feet away from the basket, social media would have you believe his struggles finishing on around the rim are a legitimate issue. Fortunately, that supposed struggle is mostly a figment of the casual fan’s imagination. The fifth-year shot-blocker ranks in the 88th percentile in the NBA in restricted area efficiency and has converted from that zone 2.2 percentage points better than a year ago. Could he dunk more than he does? Sure, though a shortage of slams is the least of San Antonio’s problems.
- Spurs fans got a glimpse into the future as Devin Vassell and Luka Samanic checked into the game with around three minutes left in the first quarter. San Antonio’s top draft choices from the last two years flashed their two-way potential as Samanic smothered Nicolas Batum on one end and Vassell knocked down a smooth off-the-dribble mid-range jumper on the other. Only Samanic is of legal drinking age, so the developmental staff should have plenty of time to maximize potential.
For the Clippers fans’ perspective, visit Clips Nation.