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Clippers Show Grit, Defeat Spurs 113-110

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Big win at Staples keeps LA’s playoff hopes alive

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

NEVER. SAY. DIE.

The Clippers sought to stay in playoff contention Tuesday night, hosting the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. The game was important for both franchises, with the Clippers in a must win situation, and the Spurs seeking to clinch a playoff berth and first round positioning. The Clippers, luckily, were able to pull off the tough win.

Before telling you all how it went down, can we talk for just a minute about how UNBELIEVABLY BAD the “Players Only” telecast team of Greg Anthony, Rip Hamilton and Kevin McHale are? A whole lot of mind-numbing babble in annoying monotone mumbling voices. Personally, I took early offense at McHale opining that there are a lot of guys on the Clippers bench who really don’t care if the squad makes it to the playoffs. Really? What Clippers team has he been watching? The Clippers have been faced with circumstances that would cause other teams to crawl into a corner, curl up in the fetal position and wait to die. The Clippers are not indifferent and certainly have NOT given up on this season (PARTICULARLY the bench). They are in it to win it night after night.

Suck it McHale!

Starting Lineups

SPURS: Danny Green, Kyle Anderson, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray CLIPPERS: C.J. Williams, Tobias Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Tyrone Wallace, Austin Rivers

The Clippers were once again without Danilo Gallinari, who experienced a worsening of his hand fracture during Saturday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers. In fact, Brad Turner of the LA Times reported during Tuesday’s game that Gallinari is also probably out for the season. If true, he joins rookie Jawun Evans. It was announced earlier in the week that Evans will require surgery for his sports hernia and will not return this season.

First Quarter

The Clippers started the game off poorly, as they have many times this season, and quickly fell behind the Spurs by double digits. Shots were not hitting, and defensively they were allowing the Spurs to get good looks practically anywhere they wanted on the floor. Turnovers were also a serious issue. The Clippers turned over the ball seven times in the first quarter, and the Spurs took full advantage of those errors.

Around the four-minute mark, the Clippers went on a 8-0 run to bring the lead down to single digits, but then allowed the Spurs to end the quarter on a 14-3 run.

Aldridge led the Spurs with 13 points. Harris was high for the Clippers with 7.

After the first frame: Spurs 31 - Clippers 17.

Second Quarter

The Clippers came out with a little more energy in the second quarter. No surprise the revitalization was let by Boban Marjanovic and Montrezl Harrell.

Boban made his impact known right away, posting up Pau Gasol and getting to the line. He went 4-6 from the line in just over five minutes of play. Harrell was also impactful with his smart play on both ends of the floor. He hustled, took a charge from Gasol and went hard to the basket. He would score 6 in the quarter in about the same number of minutes.

The Clippers pushed the ball slightly better in transition, but were not playing consistently. They were overly reliant on Harris to score. Regular scorers Rivers (3 for 10 at the half) and Lou Williams (3 for 15 at the half) were cold. Buckets by other Clippers were few and far between, but included this beauty by Tyrone Wallace.

Defense —> Offense.

The Clippers showed some signs of life around the 5 minute mark, going on a 13-0 run led by Harris. After a bucket by Rudy Gay stopped the run, Doc called a time out. The Clippers came out of the time out with back-to-back buckets by Harrell, and the Spurs lead was cut to four. Spurs out-scored the Clippers in the final minutes however, topped off by an end of the quarter 3-pointer by Rudy Gay.

At the half: Spurs 56 - Clippers 49.

Halftime Notes

The Spurs led the entire half; biggest lead was 19 points.

The Clippers were plagued by turnovers. They had 10 in the half, resulting in 15 points for the Spurs.

The Clippers shot 45.5% from the field and 22% from behind the line.

The Spurs shot 48.9% from the field and 30% from behind the line.

Points in the paint: Clippers (32), Spurs (28)

Fast Break Points: Clippers (8), Spurs (9)

CLIPPERS STAT LEADERS:

  • Tobias Harris: 17 points on 7-12 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
  • Montrezl Harrell: 10 points on 5-6 shooting, 3 rebounds
  • Austin Rivers: 5 points 2 assists
  • DeAndre Jordan: 4 points, 9 rebounds

SPURS STAT LEADERS:

  • David Aldridge: 13 points, 3 rebounds
  • Rudy Gay: 12 points, 2 assists
  • Dejounte Murray: 7 rebounds

Third Quarter

The Clippers started off the third quarter sluggish, uninspired and a step behind. The Spurs lead was extended to 10 within minutes.

The Clippers then went on another mini-run, attacking the basket and not settling for contested outside shots. After Harris connected with Rivers for a 3-pointer bringing the Spurs lead to four, Coach Pop called a time out.

The Clippers kept their level of intensity up, and took their first lead of the game (64-63) with 5:29 left in the third on a three point play by Jordan.

The Spurs unfortunately struck right back, going on a 20-8 run to end the quarter.

After three: Spurs up 83-72.

Fourth Quarter

The Clippers would start the fourth with Harrell and Boban on the floor. The wonder twins led the Clippers on yet another run. Montrezl was aggressive to the hole and getting to the line, as was Boban, who ended the game 8-10 from the line.

Rivers also started feeling his oats, going to the rim more aggressively after playing somewhat timidly through the first three quarters. Austin hit a big three off a Boban screen and Clippers suddenly found themselves within one with 7:34 left in regulation. Time out Spurs.

The Clippers had a bit of a lapse coming out of the time out and quickly found themselves down by seven with just under four minutes left in the game. They clawed back, however. An opportunistic steal by Lou Williams lead to a Harris three point play, cutting the lead to 2 (103-101) with two minutes to go.

The next 90 seconds were very close, it was really anyone’s game. Big buckets by Lou Williams, who had 15 in the quarter, and a wide open three pointer by Rivers gave the Clippers the momentum to close this one out.

End Score: Clippers 113-110

NOTABLES

  • Remarkably, the Clippers only led for 48 seconds in this contest. The right 48 seconds.
  • Tobias Harris was a quiet and consistent hero in this one. He ended the game with 31 points, and really kept the Clippers within striking range throughout the game.
  • Thank goodness Austin Rivers and Lou Williams don’t lack in confidence. After three dismal quarters, the two shooters showed up big in the fourth, making buckets when they were needed the most. That old adage “it’s not how you start, its how you finish”, could not be more true for these two stars.
  • Montrezl Harrell could use more minutes. His energy is infectious, and he can score. He was simply not on the floor enough in my opinion. He finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes. Sometimes DeAndre just does not seem locked in, and if there is one thing we know about Harrell, he’s ALWAYS locked in.
  • Wes Johnson appears to have lost his spot in the current rotation. He only played 57 seconds tonight.
  • If Boban is not on a future season of Dancing with the Stars, I’m going to riot.
  • And finally, earlier this week, the Clippers and Steve and Connie Ballmer announced a major gift to the Department of Recreation and Parks Foundation to renovate nearly 350 public basketball courts across the City of Los Angeles over the next three years. Sorely needed, and extremely appreciated!

Next Up

The Clippers road to the playoffs does not get any easier. They next face the Utah Jazz in Utah on Thursday. Tip off is 6 p.m. The Clippers remaining games are must win situations, as they still find themselves 1.5 games out of the 8th spot in the West.