The Back Story:
First meeting of the season. San Antonio swept the season series last year (and the year before that, and the year before that).
NOTE: Baron Davis is ill, but he is in uniform and on the active roster.
First Quarter Notes:
Despite the result of the quarter, the Clippers first several defensive possessions were pretty solid. They forced two turnovers and four contested jump shots in the first six trips. Unfortunately, San Antonio made three of the jump shots.
As of the first time out, 6 minutes in, the Spurs are 7 for 8.
The Clippers are doing a good job on the offensive glass early. That's partly because there are so many available as they start 5 for 13.
There certainly seems to be some sort of Spurs mystique where the Clippers are involved. This team is 1-5 on the road, and they come in here and look EXACTLY like the team that owns the Clippers year in and year out. After one quarter, the Spurs are 14 for 17 with 5 three pointers. They have 39 points on 17 shots. 39 points on 17 shots. 39 points on 17 shots. Is that even possible? Their effective field goal percentage for the first quarter is like 97%.
Sweet merciful crap.
Second Quarter Notes:
As bad as things were in the first quarter, they get quickly worse in the second. The Spurs are not planning to miss in this game, and the Clippers don't seem to have any intention of changing their minds.
The disaster reaches it's lowest point at 52-28 (the 52nd point coming on a dead ball technical foul on Ricky Davis, thanks for that Ricky).
From that point, the Clippers offense really starts clicking, especially Chris Kaman. Unfortunately, they still can't stop the Spurs for most of the quarter.
Suddenly, after not getting a single stop the whole first half, the Clippers get five straight to close the half and cut the lead to 10 points..... so LA has all the momentum going into the locker room.
Astoundingly, the Spurs are still shooting 70% for the half. So it's an extreme understatement to say that the Clippers are lucky to only be down 10.
Third Quarter Notes:
The third quarter is a different game. The defensive intensity has picked up on both ends. The Clippers cut the lead down to 7 a couple of times, and could have gotten closer but for a blown layup by Marcus Camby and a Kaman jump hook that seemed to be all the way down before popping out.
The play of the game is Al Thornton rejecting a Tim Duncan dunk at the rim. It happened right in front of me and it was shocking. Timmy isn't a 'finish with authority' guy most of the time, just because he doesn't have to be. But he can do it, and he was plannig on it this time. Later Thornton changed another Duncan shot. Like I said, the intensity has picked up. Just ask Manu Ginobili, who almost had his head taken off by Eric Gordon (inadvertently, not dirty).
Unfortunately, with several possessions to cut further into the lead, the Clippers come up empty each time. Baron didn't get the start because he wasn't feeling well, but his plus minus in this game is going to be impressive. Telfair has been terrible, and the Clippers have been significantly better - night and day - with Baron on the floor.
Ginobili, who is shooting under 40% on the season coming into the game, is better than ever in this one. I keep hearing how the age and the injuries are taking a toll, but against the Clippers, he's an all pro, every time. He's 5 for 8 with 4 three pointers in this one.
The Clippers miss an oppoturnity in the third quarter. After shooting 70% in the first half, the Spurs shoot 8 for 20 in the third. But the Clippers can't take advantage, and a poor close to the quarter leaves them further behind than they were at halftime, down 13.
Although the Clippers were able to make up 14 points in the second quarter, I'm not expecting that to happen again. The Spurs are not the team you want to give a 13 point lead going into the fourth.
Fourth Quarter Notes:
MDsr goes with a small, unconventional lineup with 10 minutes to go - Smith, Butler, Ricky, Gordon and Baron. It is an immediate disaster as DaJuan Blair rebounds a missed free throw directly over Smith on the first play. Offensively the group starts even worse. Ricky throws the ball out of bounds, Baron shoots an air ball. I'm not clear on why MDsr is doing this frankly. But after a timeout at 9 minutes, he sticks with the group. This doesn't look good.