After getting demolished in Staples against the Spurs a few weeks ago, the Clippers played the Spurs tight for the whole night. The Spurs went up by nine in the 4th quarter and the game seemed to be well in San Antonio's control, but the Clippers played some solid defense to close the game on a night that featured little of it, and nearly stole the game away. But a Tim Duncan and-one ended up breaking Lawler's Law, and Chris Paul couldn't get a last second shot to draw a whistle on the other end.
While neither Paul or Blake Griffin had particularly noteworthy games, especially shooting the basketball, the team played pretty well as a whole from the field. The Spurs shot 52.7% from the field while the Clips shot a solid 50.6%. A major problem was free throw shooting, or particularly, DeAndre Jordan's free throw shooting. The Spurs played hack a DJ and it helped not only get them back into the game to end the first half but separate them a bit in the third quarter. Jordan shot a miserable 1-8 while getting absolutely torched by Tim Duncan all night to the tune 34 points on 12-19 shooting. The problems didn't just stop at the Clippers missing free throws but continued with the Spurs hitting theirs. Both teams shot 21 free throws, with the Spurs converting 20 to the Clippers' 12.
Tony Parker again seemed to outquick Paul most of the night while Duncan had no problems getting past DJ whenever the Spurs needed buckets. As usual, the Spurs offense seemed crisp and constantly fluid, while the Clipper offense seemed to involve its usual dose of standing around pick and rolls, and Crawford hero ball with the bench unit. However the Clippers defense was sharp down the stretch and included Matt Barnes defending Parker. Jordan even got some stops on Duncan before Duncan decided the game with his late buckets. It'd be nice to keep Paul fresh by using Barnes to cover Parker down the stretch, though Parker wasn't too healthy tonight himself. Griffin was also notably gimpy tonight, but still battled through and made some key contributions down the stretch.
While Duncan and Parker outperformed Griffin and Paul, the Clipper role players seemed to outshine their Spur counterparts, keeping the game close tonight. Jamal Crawford hit huge timely shots all night, including a three pointer that tied the game up at 99. Even Willie Green hit double figures. Manu Ginobili re-aggravated a hamstring injury early on in the game and gave the Clippers a huge break, but the Spurs rode their other stars to victory. The game got chippy in the 2nd quarter and the atmosphere in general felt like a playoff game, but the Clippers are going to have to hope for an opportunity in the postseason to show that they can keep up with the cream of the crop in the league. Up next, tomorrow night in Houston, against a Rocket team that also lost tonight.
For the Spurs perspective, check out Pounding the Rock.