Blake Griffin did not play for the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, but unfortunately for the San Antonio Spurs – it mattered little. The Silver and Black struggled to score the ball against the Clippers and it cost them.
Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 27 points, but it was not enough as the Spurs fell 106-101 to snap inside the Staples Center to snap their six game winning streak.
Pau Gasol added 21 points and nine rebounds and LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 10 for San Antonio, who played without guard Manu Ginobili.
San Antonio’s bench was outplayed with Ginobili’s absence. Los Angeles bench outscored the Spurs’ 58-33 as coach Gregg Popovich put in Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons to fill the Ginobili void. The Spurs shot 40 percent for the game, but struggled to score for nearly seven minutes in the second quarter.
Los Angeles was led by Chris Paul’s 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick each chipped in 11 for Los Angeles (22-8), who are now 2.5 games behind San Antonio for the second seed in the Western Conference.
A teaching moment: The loss shows San Antonio the team still has work to do, despite being the second best team in the West. The inconsistent play on the offensive side of the ball is something Popovich will likely look at as the season progresses.
We all know he uses the regular season as teaching moments for the playoffs. And he will do that once again – and will likely look back at tape from this game in Los Angeles.
Up next: The Spurs are now 23-6 on the season and will return to the court tomorrow night when they take on the Portland Trail Blazers at 9 p.m. inside the Moda Center.