This was one of the best Clippers’ performances of the entire season against a somewhat-revived Spurs team in San Antonio. While the Clippers led for much of the 1st half, their defense was somewhat shaky - DeMar DeRozan was getting wherever he wanted on the court, and the Clippers could not get consecutive stops. However, their energy and offensive execution was fantastic, and they just looked good.
Everything came together in the 3rd quarter, perhaps the Clippers’ strongest of the year thus far. They dominated the Spurs 38-22, swarming the Spurs on defense and attacking the rim hard on the other end. Any time the Spurs drove, they were confronted with a sea of Clippers’ arms and hands, with the forced turnovers leading to easy points in transition. Kawhi Leonard picked the Spurs apart methodically in the halfcourt, while Moe Harkless and Ivica Zubac stifled the Spurs defensively and threw the ball down on the other end. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell also had phenomenal showings, demonstrating their otherworldly chemistry once more by slicing and dicing the Spurs defense. The period was a glimpse into just how good this team could be, and it was glorious to watch.
The 4th quarter was largely garbage time, but it was good to see the Clippers youngsters get some minutes and enjoy themselves. All in all, a highly promising game, and the best the Clippers have looked in a couple weeks. The defense was energetic and connected, the offense flowed well, and mistakes were kept to a minimum (11 turnovers). Perhaps most importantly, Kawhi looked as good (and as explosive) as he has all season, with 26 points (on 16 shots), 7 rebounds, 9 assists, and 4 steals. He was brilliant in every way.
The Clippers getting some rest (nobody played more than 27 minutes) was even more important tonight because they play the tough Thunder (14-14) tomorrow night in OKC for Paul George’s return. Kawhi will probably miss that contest as well, but it should be another fun one!