The San Antonio Spurs took their 9-game winning streak into Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Saturday, but they left Los Angeles with a victory and two costly injuries.
The Spurs were led by Tony Parker’s 30 points and 10 assists, while Gary Neal added 17 points off the bench, as the Spurs defeated the Clippers 103-100 in overtime. The Spurs however, lost Tiago Splitter to a sprained right calf in the first quarter, and Manu Ginobili later in the game with a strained left oblique muscle.
The Clippers came out with an 8-0 run to start the game, mainly behind sound defense that held that Spurs to just 15 points in the first quarter, and 3-of-14 shooting outside of the paint. Blake Griffin (22 points, 20 rebounds) had 10 points in the quarter as the Clippers lead 26-15 after one. Splitter suffered his injury in the first quarter while DeJuan Blair (10 points) had six points.
The Spurs began the second quarter with a 9-3 run fueled by Matt Bonner (13 points). The Clippers responded with their own 5-0 run to lead by 10 points, 38-28. Then, Tim Duncan (11 points, 17 rebounds), Parker, and Bonner sparked the Spurs as they closed the quarter on a 17-5 run to go into halftime with a 45-43 lead. Ginobili’s injury may have occurred in the second quarter or later as he was only marginally in the game. The Spurs’ defense was the story in the second quarter as they held the Clippers to just 17 points, and Griffin to just three points.
The Spurs began the third quarter with a major 20-7 point push behind Parker and Danny Green (11 points) to lead 65-50. The Clippers responded with a 17-0 run lead by Randy Foye (21 points) to take a 67-65 lead before Gary Neal ended the run with a much-needed three pointer. When the buzzer sounded, the Spurs’ once 15-point lead was all but gone as they held a 70-67 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter started with two top point guards going into a head-to-head battle as Chris Paul (21 points) had 17 points in the fourth quarter, and Parker had 12 points. Both teams kept their clubs in the game, then as the Spurs were down 95-92 with time winding down, Neal turned the ball over and the Clippers recovered. As the Clippers inbounded the possession, Paul threw the ball straight to Neal and Neal hit a wide open clutch three with time winding down. The Spurs and Clippers were headed into overtime tied at 95.
In overtime, Bonner and Neal were the heroes as they each hit one clutch three as the Spurs outscored the Clippers 8-5 in extra time. The Spurs held on for the 103-100 victory.
The Spurs are now 22-9 on the season, stretch their winning streak to 10 games, are now 9-8 on the road, and are 6-0 on the Rodeo Road Trip. The team will have Sunday off before heading to Utah on Monday to face the Jazz.
There was no timetable set for Splitter or Ginobili’s injuries after the game, but I checked two health websites to see the timetable for a regular human body. A strained left oblique muscle (Ginobili) takes 3-4 weeks to recover. And depending on the severity of the strained right calf (Splitter), the injury can take 2-8 weeks for recovery. Remember, these are just general timetables.
Stay tuned with Project Spurs as we’ll be bringing you more news on the length of the injuries to both Splitter and Ginobili.