Coming into Monday’s matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers, an All-Star point guard matchup between Tony Parker and Chris Paul was the expectation. However, as the game got under way, only one of the perennial point guards would end up finishing the game in a healthy state.
With 5:09 left in the third quarter and the Spurs down 68-61, Parker would leave the game with a right shin contusion that he injured on a defensive play when he collided his knee to shin area with Clippers forward Ryan Hollins. Parker would not return to the game.
The Spurs would go on to be outscored in the fourth quarter 37-22 as the Clippers would eventually defeat San Antonio 115-92. Here’s a rundown of the Spurs’ fifth loss of the season and their third by 10 or more points.
First Quarter: Spurs 28, Clippers 21
Player of the quarter: Tim Duncan – 9 points – Early in the first, Duncan scored mostly in the paint off post moves and screen-and-roll action on his way to nine of his 17 game points in the opening quarter. In that quarter, the Spurs outscored the Clippers 18-4 in the paint.
Parker – 7 points – In the first quarter, Parker also found his way into the paint as he too contributed with several layups and helped with the 18 points in the paint in the opening quarter.
Second Quarter: Spurs 21, Clippers 34
Half: Spurs 49, Clippers 55
Player of the quarter: Marco Belinelli – 6 points – After the Clippers went on an early 19-0 run in the second quarter, Belinelli helped bring the Clippers lead down by knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers. Belinelli though, would only finish with one more pointer through the remainder of the game.
Blake Griffin – 10 points – After the Clippers scored just four points in the paint in the first quarter, Griffin (27 points, 9 rebounds) helped the Clippers score 14 points in the second quarter from that area. He was scoring by posting using his spin move, and most of all, drawing multiple fouls, as he made 9-of-11 free throws in the first half.
Paul – 7 points – Leonard started the game defending Paul and Paul wasn’t able to get too comfortable in the first quarter. However, many Spurs defenders had to guard Paul (23 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) in the second quarter and he got going with seven points. At one point, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich even let Cory Joseph have his try at defending Paul.
Third Quarter: Spurs 21, Clippers 23
After three: Spurs 70, Clippers 78
Parker injured – As stated above, in the middle of the quarter was when Parker went down with the injury. From what the camera showed, Parker had a noticeable limp as he walked to the locker room on his own with the Spurs’ trainer. No word was announced post game on the details of the injury other than he would not return to the game.
Player of the quarter: Leonard – 6 points – Leonard scored half of his 12 points in the third quarter as he had different spurts of scoring plays, but never enough to make a huge impact once the Clippers would bump up their lead.
Paul – 10 points – With Parker only playing half of the quarter, Paul had his way with the Spurs’ defense as Joseph was given more playing time in defending him.
Griffin – 8 points – Anytime the Spurs would chip into the Clippers’ lead, there would be Griffin finding ways to score on rolls to the basket or by using his athleticism and speed to beat defenders to his spots in the paint.
Fourth Quarter: Spurs 22, Clippers 37
Final: Spurs 115, Clippers 92
Player of the quarter: Manu Ginobili – 6 points – Manu Ginobili would score six of his 16 points in the final quarter early before the Clippers would go on a game-clinching run and Coach Popovich removed Ginobili and the rest of the regular rotation players from the game.
· Even in a loss, the Spurs’ bench still outscored the Clippers’ bench 46-27.
· The Spurs were their own worst enemy in the game as they turned the ball over 22 times that resulted in 37 points for the Clippers. The Clippers also outscored the Spurs 18-7 in fast-break points, the Spurs’ turnovers were a reason for those numbers.
· Former Spur Stephen Jackson played 16:54 minutes in the game and finished with 3-of-5 shooting for 6 points. Here’s a fun stat, from the moment he entered in the second quarter and pushing to the end of the game, the Clippers outscored the Spurs 94-64.
· Danny Green was benched to start the second half after turning the ball over twice in the second quarter and then giving up a wide-open 3-pointer to Willie Green. Green would return late in the third and play most of the fourth quarter as he finished with 7 points on 3-of-6 shooting.
· The Spurs only passed for 20 assists in the game, well below their league-leading 25.3 assists per game they came in with. The Spurs could only assist on 54% of their made baskets.
· Jared Dudley and Jamal Crawford both came into the match shooting no better than 26% from 3-point range in the month of December. Dudley would shoot 68% and Crawford 38% against the Spurs from downtown on Monday.
· Are the Clippers a better defensive team without injured guard J.J. Redick? So far, the numbers indicate so. With Redick in the lineup the Clippers are allowing teams to score 102.6 points per 100 possessions. With Redick out, the Clippers are only allowing teams to score 96.7 points per 100 possessions. After giving up 28 points in the opening quarter Monday, they never allowed more than 22 points from the Spurs the rest of the way.
Where they stand: With the loss, the Spurs fell to 19-5 on the season and 5-2 in December. They moved to 10-3 on the road, they are 5-5 against teams that are .500 or above, and 10-4 against the Western Conference. They hold the highest Net Rating in the NBA at +10.1. They’re 4th in offensive rating at 106.5 points per 100 possessions, and their defense continues to rank 2nd in the league at 96.4 points per 100 possessions.
Up Next: The Spurs will travel to Phoenix where they’ll have an off day on Tuesday before resuming play on Wednesday as they face the Suns. The Suns are currently 14-9 on the season, 8-3 at home, and are 7-4 against winning teams. The Suns have an offensive rating at 105.8 (8th) points per 100 possessions, a defensive rating of 102.8 (17th) points per 100 possessions, and have a Net Rating of +3.0 (9th).