Another slow start for the San Antonio Spurs resulted in another loss for the young team as they continue to cool off. On Saturday night, the Spurs (6-11) fell to the Los Angeles Clippers (10-7) 119-97. All things considered, it could’ve been worse.
With Kawhi Leonard on a minutes restriction and Paul George sitting the entire second half with knee soreness, Los Angeles didn’t finish the game at full strength, not that it was necessary. San Antonio won’t have long to let this loss linger on their minds. They get right back to work on Sunday night at the Crypto.com Arena against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The San Antonio Spurs Need a Jump-Start
Looking at the box scores, the Spurs are 1-10 when they trail after the first quarter. The lone win came against the Philadelphia 76ers. That figure drops to 1-11 when factoring in ties after the opening frame. Conversely, San Antonio is 5-0 when leading after 12 minutes. Getting out of the gate is obviously an issue for the Spurs that has lingered. Though they tend to battle back throughout games, the early deficit has been too much to overcome, just as it was again against the Clippers on Saturday.
The big issue in the opening minutes for San Antonio on this particular evening was perimeter defense. Los Angeles connected on 56 percent of their three-point opportunities for a 27-6 advantage beyond the arc. George led the onslaught scoring 18 points in the quarter, including 12 from deep. The Spurs got another solid offensive performance from Jakob Poeltl who led the team with 20 points. He was one of just three to score double digits for San Antonio, joined by Keldon Johnson (11) and 13 off the bench from Doug McDermott. The team shot a rough 41 percent from the floor though that was heavily impacted by poor perimeter shooting. They shot just 26 percent from three-point range on the night.
Offensive Efficiency from the Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles connected on nearly as many three-point shots (26) as the Spurs attempted (26). That really set the two teams apart. Norman Powell led the Clippers with 26 points from the bench tying George with five made beyond the arc. George added 21 points in less than 15 minutes of action, followed closely by Reggie Jackson with 20 points. If it felt like Jackson couldn’t miss, that’s because he relatively couldn’t. Connecting on 72 percent of his shots on the evening, he was a perfect 4-for-4 from the perimeter.
Though they didn’t score many points themselves, John Wall and Ivica Zubac made a significant impact on the final result, leading all players with 15 assists and 11 rebounds respectively. The only stat the Clippers appeared to struggle was on the glass where they were out-rebounded by San Antonio 43-35. Considering they shot north of 50 percent from the floor and beyond the arc, however, they didn’t have as many offensive rebound opportunities as San Antonio where the real difference in the rebounding total was.
Up Next for the San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have been away from the AT&T Center for over a week, and hope to finish the West Coast road trip strong against the Lakers. Los Angeles (4-10) enters the contest after winning their last two games but still sits below San Antonio in the standings. The two teams are meeting for the first time this season but will see each other two more times across seven days, creating an interesting opportunity for them both to quickly implement adjustments each night.
Anthony Davis is probable for Sunday’s game as he deals with a back injury. LeBron James and Juan Toscano-Anderson are both listed as questionable as of Saturday. Max Christie will miss the game due to COVID-19 protocols. Outside of significant injuries, the player to watch on the injury report is Devin Vassell who was out for the game against the Clippers after being listed as questionable beforehand. The third-year product out of Florida State is second on the team in scoring (20.4 ppg) and a major contributor to the team’s game on both ends of the floor.