The Clippers had arguably their best win of the season, a hard fought game against a full-strength Spurs squad that came down to the final seconds. Despite missing Blake Griffin, the Clippers put together a true team effort with big contributions all around.
If pressed to give out a game ball, I'm not sure that I could pick just one player. DJ was huge again with a near 20-20 game, Glen "Big Baby" Davis provided a tremendous spark off the bench, Jamal Crawford was money in the second half and Chris Paul was the steady hand all the way through. Matt Barnes and JJ Redick also had big plays late.
Both teams came out on fire in the first quarter. Tim Duncan seemingly couldn't miss a jumper, he hit his first 3 since 2012. JJ and CP3 did the heavy lifting for the Clips. The frame ended with the Clippers clinging to a narrow 27-24 lead.
The second quarter is where things got fun. The reserves took the floor and Big Baby went off. There seemed to be 5 plays in a row where they just went to Davis in the paint. For my money, the Clippers are the most fun to watch when Baby is hyped. His energy seems to be infectious.
But Gregg Popovich pulled out the antidote for fun, Hack-a-DJ. With the score tied at 44, Pop began having his players foul the Clippers center intentionally. You would have to say the strategy worked the first time around. DJ went 3-10, the Clippers' momentum was disrupted and the Spurs built a 53-47 lead.
At the end of the half there was an interesting turn of events. DJ went for a huge dunk over Duncan, as Matt Barnes was caught saying on the TNT broadcast, it would've been the dunk of the year. Alas, Jordan was unable to throw it down. Old Timmy didn't take too kindly to this and a few moments later he was posterizing DJ on the other end.
The second half didn't start well for the Clips. A combination of turnovers, cold shooting and fouls gave the Spurs a 9 point lead but the Clippers would not go quietly. Back-to-back 3s by Jamal and JJ pulled the Clippers close and a Big Baby and-1 gave the Clippers the lead at 77-76. Then this happened...
DEANDRE JORDAN SMASH https://t.co/RG56tqfaP5— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) February 20, 2015
I have thought of a number of clever quips to put here, but really I think we should all just take a moment of silence for Marco Belinelli.
The final frame opened with the Clips leading 90-88 and playing at a feverish pace. With the Clippers pulling away in exciting fashion, Pop once again brought the game grinding to a halt with Hack-a-DJ with 8:14 remaining. This time, the joke was on him as DJ made a decent amount of his free throws. He nailed his first two to invoke Lawler's Law.
Despite holding onto a 4 point lead during the hacking shenanigans, Doc subbed in Baby for DJ until Pop's "strategy" could no longer be employed.
The final minute of the game was tense. Jamal hit a corner 3 to put the Clips up 4 with 32.7 remaining but Belinelli answered right back with a 3 of his own. The Point God came back with a pull-up in the lane to give the Clippers a 3 point lead with 8 seconds remaining.
In what can be described as nothing short of poetic, the Clippers gave the Spurs a bit of their own medicine by intentionally fouling Manu Ginobli, taking away his chance to tie the game with a three pointer. Ginobli missed his second free throw, JJ grabbed the board and was fouled. He hit both shots and that was the game.
With the win, the Clippers move to 5th place in the West but only one game out of 3rd. The Clippers next game is at home against the Kings on Saturday.