Los Angeles took it to San Antonio again in a 126-99 victory that was closer than the final outcome. The Spurs were done in by frigid 3-point shooting (9-for-35) compared to the Clippers’ veteran presence and aggression caught the San Antonio defense repeatedly off-guard and led to more buckets and free throws. The Clippers (5-7) improved to 2-5 after the addition of James Harden, while the Spurs (3-11) suffered its ninth straight defeat.
Los Angeles’ trio of Kawhi Leonard (21 points, 4 rebounds), Paul George (28 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds), and James Harden (13 points and 10 assists) did the bulk of the damage.
With Devin Vassell (adductor) continuing his rehabilitation and a surprisingly muted performance from Victor Wembanyama (9 points and 4 rebounds), the Spurs received an inspired bench boost from Cedi Osman (17 points and 4 rebounds) along with Keldon Johnson (22 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists).
In a tight first quarter that Bill Land called “nip-and-tuck,” the teams traded leads until Los Angeles, with Leonard’s and George’s playmaking and turnover-free ball, claimed a 33-27 lead at the end of one.
The Clippers threatened to run away with the game throughout the second quarter with excellent offensive execution, while taking advantage of the Spurs’ youth at both ends. San Antonio was able to mount a comeback later in the second behind energized efforts from Johnson and Charles Bassey off the bench, but LA’s ball movement helped it claim a 12 advantage at the break.
The Clippers again looked like they would put the game out of reach in the third with intense defensive pressure, but San Antonio made a run late in the quarter to shave the deficit back to respestability. Unfortunately, Los Angeles’ pressure in the fourth was too much for the hosts to overcome.
- A great read on the drawback of Zach Collins’ increased responsibilities this season.
- Daniel Theis seems like the type of high energy big that a future Spurs roster would need around Wembanyama.
- When Sochan is given a ton of space by the defender on the perimeter, it may be of benefit to him (and if the defender is off-balance of course) to drive it right into or past them instead of settling for what looks like a tentative catch-and-shoot.
- Osman is a nice release valve late in the shot clock when the Spurs’ endless drive-and-kicks don’t bear fruit.
- Appreciation for Bassey. In one sequence late in the first half, the big man kept possessions alive while turning away several Clippers’ drives at the rim.
- Sequence of the Game #1: Late in the opening frame, Bassey caught an errant Sochan floater and threw a dart to a waiting Tre Jones in the corner for a three-point swish.
- Sequence of the Game #2: Westbrook was emphatically turned away by Wembanyama at the rim, and Osman converted a Ginobili-esque driving and-1 at the other end late in the third quarter.
- Victor-Ease: On the catch and with some momentum, it looks so easy for Wembanyama to go over, around, under, or through the helpless defender in transition.
- Collins and Wembanyama ran a nifty give and go early in the first period that netted Collins a nice floater. It was a nice change from the dribble hand-off action that the center is normally used to.
- The teams came out of the game with an uneven, yet competitive fervor. While Leonard and George connected on early threes, San Antonio found an open paint area to their liking for their scoring. The teams remained within one or two possessions throughout with the Clippers exerting constant pressure. The Spurs’ second foul on a three-point attempt gave the visitors a six point lead exiting the first.
- Russell Westbrook was a one-man onslaught to start the second period. San Antonio relentlessly attacked the basket, but LA continued to pelt away from the outside to keep safely ahead. A Theis straightaway three and the Spurs’ third 3-point shot foul gave LA its largest lead. Johnson’s rim-running and an impromptu Bassey block party turbocharged a 9-0 run. Leonard’s exploits at both ends helped his team go up 66-55 at the half.
- In ligiht of the team’s usual third quarter struggles, San Antonio kept the margin around a dozen or so for roughly half the frame. Collins’ left block bankshot evoked Tim Duncan. The Clippers stripped the Spurs on multiple possessions, and a transition layup by George put them up 20. With a chance to cut the lead to single digits, Jones overthrew Wembanyama and Norman Powell hit a transition three instead. The Spurs went into the fourth down 14.
- San Antonio finally wilted in the fourth quarter beneath the weight of LA’s persistent offensive execution despite Johnson carrying the majority of the production on his own. Sidy Cissoko’s impressive block was called a goaltend and he was unable to convert an alley-oop in garbage time.
For the Clippers fan’s perspective, please visit Clips Nation.
The two teams match up again at the Frost Bank Center on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM CDT