The streak continues! The Spurs beat the Clippers 115-107, winning their 15th straight game at home to open the season, and 24th in a row at home dating back to last year. However, another unmeasured streak continued - the bench lost another lead in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers lead at the end of the third quarter 88-85. The Spurs opened the fourth with 11-0 run against an all-bench lineup. It was quick and the difference in the game. Doc Rivers reacted a little late, putting together a lineup of Paul-Crawford-Stephenson-Griffin-Jordan. Greg Popovich started intentionally fouling in the fourth quarter with 8:57 remaining. Yes, you read that right - nearly nine whole minutes! It turned a wonderful game to watch to absolutely dreadful. To be fair, the DJ was intentionally fouled in the third quarter when the Clippers were up 4 with 2:38 left in the 3rd quarter, which the Clippers ended the quarter up 3. In the fourth, with about 3 minutes remaining, Los Angeles only had 5 non-hacking points over that span, according to Lucas Hann on Twitter.
DeAndre Jordan finished the game with 16 points and 17 rebounds, while a disappointing 8 for 20 from the line. Paul played superbly in a big game, like usual, producing a double-double with 27 points and 10 assists. Blake Griffin scored 25 points with 5 rebounds, 5 assists and only 4 free throw attempts - below his season average.
The Spurs were their usual Spursian self, with assists on 59-percent of buckets. New Spur LaMarcus Aldridge led the team with 26 points and corralled 13 rebounds. Old Spur Tim Duncan had only 14 points and 5 rebounds, but repeatedly, throughout the game, beat the Clippers on passing from the high post. He had 4 assists, and most were lobs to Aldridge in the low post. Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker murdered any hope for the Clippers with clutch shot after clutch shot in the fourth quarter, finishing with 19 and 21 points respectively.
Interesting to note, most of the Clippers starters post a positive plus/minus in the game, with Jordan having the only negative. Most Spurs starters finished with a negative plus/minus, with Aldridge and Duncan as the only positives. On the bench, nobody on the Clippers posted a positive plus/minus, with Paul Pierce having a team worst minus-14 in a team low 8 minutes. For the Spurs bench, nobody on the bench had a negative plus/minus. Jonathon Simmons led the team with plus-17 in just 8 minutes, or the anti-Pierce effect.
The game lasted about 30 minutes longer than a usual NBA game. The second half lasted 20 more minutes than the first half due to the Hack-a-DJ. Numbers are vague on if the hacking strategy works. This was the first time the Clippers have lost when DJ shot more than 15 free throws. Adam Silver said, and paraphrased here, "think of the children and what message it sends" if the hacking rule is disallowed. Here's my personal beef Mr. Silver. Fouling is supposed to be against the rules. Its original intent is meant as a repercussion for breaking the rules. Now, teams are breaking the rules for their advantage - and the games are more boring. The only message it sends is to change the channel. Fixing this rule won't be easy or well received, but its something that needs to be done for the enjoyment and essence of the game.