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San Antonio vs. Los Angeles, Final Score: Spurs halt their losing streak at five to beat LA 101-94

San Antonio briefly gave away a hard-earned advantage in the fourth before its star backcourt dominated crunch time to win

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White and his teammates made just enough stops in the closing minutes to cement the victory
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Starting from the second quarter on, San Antonio (16-27) ascended into a lead that it would nearly cough away, but ultimately held off the Los Angeles Clippers 101-94 behind the two-way brilliance of Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. The Spurs took advantage of a cold shooting effort by their visitors along with offense by Murray paired with stops at critical junctures to prevent the Clippers from getting their fourth straight win in the Alamo City.

The visiting Clippers, absent Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, were paced by a career-game by Amir Coffey (20 points and 5 rebounds) and Marcus Morris, Sr. (15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists) and had a fourth quarter surge by veterans Nicolas Batum and Serge Ibaka thwarted in the waning moments.

San Antonio, in Derrick White’s return to the lineup, received a stellar comeback performance (19 points, 4 assists, and 3 blocks) in support of Dejounte Murray (18 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds) and Keldon Johnson (17 points and 6 rebounds). The Spurs avoided tumbling further into the conference basement.

Observations:

  • Quoted from Murray this morning: “When you lose, it wasn’t enough. It means zero. I want no credit for losing basketball games. No matter what, I want zero credit.” We need to keep him at any cost!
  • It was cool to see Dejounte’s name show up on the list of Spurs luminaries who have had 30 points and 10 rebounds in consecutive games - Artis Gilmore! Larry Kenon! Terry Cummings! It was surprising that Alvin Robertson didn’t make the list
  • To me, the Clippers have led the league in most unlikable and insufferable players on the roster by leaps and bounds the last decade, this current version of them “only” seems to have: Marcus Morris, Sr. and nephew.
  • Jock Landale got the start in place of Jakob Poeltl and nabbed a steal on LA’s first posssesion. While Landale looks like a natural traditional center out there, Drew Eubanks resembles more of a galloping adolescent deer.
  • Keita Bates-Diop just looks real smooth compared to his infant days on the roster.
  • Joshua Primo looks like he needs to add 10 pounds of muscle up top to ease his shooting stroke.
  • Shouldn’t someone else other than HEB sponsor the Kiss Cam (a local or regional panaderia?)?
  • Reggie Jackson had a surprisingly quiet game against his longtime foes.
  • Keldon’s Kitchen: Keldon continues to make strides in his pacing. He leveraged Coffey’s body to put him in the spin-cycle for a lay-up midway through the third.
  • Sequence of the Game: After sending home a three late in the opening half, White left his defender (after a failed steal attempt by Vassell) to swat Amir Coffey’s three attempt out of bounds.
  • In honor of Wild Card weekend, the teams fumbled away their first three possessions. The Spurs wingmen tried to support Landale by distracting 7-footer Ivica Zubac around the basket. Morris Sr. picked apart the defense and led a Clipper 10-0 run. Lonnie Walker steadied things with nine early points and, more importantly, by aggressively looking for his own offense. The cold-shooting teams remained stuck at 21 apiece for 3+ minutes before Batum put home a free throw to slide his team ahead.
  • A trio of White jumpers helped San Antonio create its own 12-0 run to start the second period. Eric Bledsoe broke the run with a rare LA make behind the arc and Isaiah Hartenstein connected on several rim-running forays. Murray rebuffed multiple Clipper attempts to stay in front of him with his right to left crossover/jumper move. White’s third triple gave the San Antonio its biggest lead at 16. Amir Coffey found his footing from the perimeter and helped LA chop the lead in half going into the break.
  • A five-point possession, two free throws from Doug McDermott followed by a three from Vassell off a miss, extended the Spurs advantage out past double digits. LA did itself no favors by lurching into the foul penalty only three minutes into the third period. Jackson’s first three shaved the deficit to eight and when Coffey wasn’t scoring at-will, he exerted himself on 50/50 balls to keep possessions going. A brief scoring burst by Bates-Diop wasn’t enough to offset a pair of threes from Ibaka and the Clippers exited the quarter down just five.
  • A 8-0 run by LA to start the fourth, including some surprising offense by Batum, knocked the wind out of the Spurs’ sails. A Murray bankshot was San Antonio’s only offense through the first half of the frame. White put home a lay-in after drawing a crucial charge that would’ve put the Clippers ahead by seven. White’s free throws shortly after put the Spurs back up by one. A dead-ball foul by Johnson gifted LA free throws, but Jackson missed his attempt. White got his fingertips on a Coffey attempt to turn LA over, and Murray asserted his midrange dominance on back-to-back jumpers.
  • In the last minutes, San Antonio’s defense secured the home victory. After a Clipper timeout, Johnson deflected a pass off of Terance Mann’s shoes. Despite several misses, Murray pestered the Clippers on successive transition opportunities - retaining possession for the Spurs and White dashed around tired defenders for a layup. Murray’s free throws then pushed it to 101-94. White picked up yet another charge on Bledsoe and forced a bad miss by Batum. After a Jackson brick, San Antonio dribbled out the clock in one part relief and one part jubilation.

For the Clippers fan’s perspective, please visit Clips Nation.

San Antonio takes on Devin Booker and the defending conference champion Phoenix Suns on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at 7:30 PM CT.