Game #36 | January 4, 2014
AT&T Center | San Antonio, TX
SAN ANTONIO – The Clippers were learning on the fly Saturday night inside AT&T Center. And for the first 24 minutes it looked like the lesson was drastically one-sided.
Playing the second night of a Texas back-to-back and first without superstar Chris Paul, the Clippers were in the midst of being routed by the San Antonio Spurs. They had allowed 70 points in the first half again, something they overcame a night earlier in Dallas. Their offense was stagnant, their deficit seemingly insurmountable. But something clicked in the second half, and suddenly a once 37-point deficit was 13.
The Clippers’ rally fell short and they lost, 116-92, in their only trip to the Alamo City this season, but the inspired second half proved they may have found something.
“In the second half the ball was popping around and we were attacking,” Jamal Crawford said. “You can’t really attack [San Antonio] on the first action. You have to
Crawford scored 15 of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter and added seven assists. Blake Griffin scored 19 points with seven rebounds. Darren Collison, making his second start of the season, added 14 points and six assists, and DeAndre Jordan had 10 rebounds, but fouled out in the fourth quarter.
On Friday, the Clippers (23-13) were down 70-67 at halftime and came back to win putting together a 16-2 run to close the game without Paul, who was lost to a right AC joint separation. Saturday was entirely different. They didn’t make enough shots early, and despite allowing just six points in the first eight minutes of the third quarter couldn’t make enough stops late to continue what would have been an historic comeback.
Tim Duncan effectively put the game away for the Spurs (26-8) with five consecutive points after a Crawford free throw cut the Spurs’ lead to 92-79.
Still, Griffin said his team made strides in figuring out how to play without the six-time All-Star and perennial MVP candidate.
“In the second quarter we started talking about running different sets,” Blake Griffin said. “Sets to keep the movement going and get people open. Whether we hit shots or not, we needed to get better shots.”
San Antonio’s onslaught was partly due to their tremendous efficiency, but also a product of the Clippers’ lack of movement offensively.
“Most of it was offensively inflicted,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “Our shot selection was so bad, every shot we took was the first pass to their fast break. It really felt that way. We took quick shots with no floor balance and every time we took the shot you’re thinking if they get the rebound they’re about to score.”
The Spurs racked up 37 points in the first quarter, missing five shots and holding the Clippers to one rebound, a franchise record low for a Spurs opponent in the opening period. It didn’t get any better before halftime. They shot 60.8 percent overall and doubled up the Clippers, 70-35.
But the Clippers put together three runs of 8-0 or better in the third quarter, including a 30-foot bomb by Crawford at the buzzer.
Crawford, who has struggled from the field in the last five games, finally got cooking in the third. He had 15 points in the quarter and led a charge by the Clippers that pulled them within 13 points early in the fourth. They would not get any closer.
Crawford registered five of his seven assists in the third and the Clippers had 12 of their 21 as a team in the second half.
“It’s amazing, probably a good lesson for us, without C.P. (Paul), you’re not going to dance around with the ball and just make things magical happen,” Rivers said. “C.P. has that ability, no one else does. But when we started moving the ball in the second half we looked like a basketball team again.
“Overall, I was really happy with that part, we kind of found who we’re going to have to be without C.P. It’s a tough way to find that out, but we did find that out and I think everyone on our team saw it, so you live with that.”
Griffin failed to reach 20 points and 10 rebounds for just the second time in the last 10 games… The Spurs scored 78 points in the paint, including a season-high 52 in the first half… At 23-13 the Clippers still match the second best start in franchise history after 36 games… Tiago Splitter scored a season-high 22 points, but left the game with a sprained right shoulder after a collision with Ryan Hollins… Willie Green had eight points off the bench… Stephen Jackson played 5:29 in his first game back in San Antonio since being waived by the Spurs in April. He did not score… Duncan scored 19 points with 11 rebounds and four assists… Griffin threw down a left-handed dunk in the first quarter, leaping around Duncan on a baseline drive…
REGGIE BULLOCK UPDATE
Rivers said rookie forward Reggie Bullock remains out with a sprained left ankle. Bullock reinjured the ankle about six minutes into practice after stepping on a teammate’s foot and rolling it again.
|Clippers forward Blake Griffin on his overall impressions of the game:
“The first half, we just got away from playing our brand of basketball. We had no motion offensively, we didn’t play great defensively, but we came out and buckled down in the second half and really played our game. So it’s a good learning point for us to move forward, we have to play like that to beat a team this good.”
|Clippers guard Jamal Crawford on playing without Chris Paul:
“Obviously, when you lose a player of C.P.’s (Chris Paul) magnitude, it’s almost like a shock. Obviously you know he’s not going to be out there, but the way we play is totally different. I think after we got that out of our systems, we couldn’t play any worse than the first half. We cut it from 35 to 13 on a back-to-back against one of the best teams in the league.”
|Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich on whether or not his team started settling after earning big lead:
“No. It’s hard to keep a 30-point lead in the NBA. It’s pretty rare. The other team is really good too so there is always going to be a momentum change at some point. I think they (the Clippers) increased their defense as far as aggressiveness and physicality and I think we got stuck in mud a little bit. We didn't move the ball quite as well. The pace slowed and they made shots at the same time. They did a good job trying to make a run.”
|Spurs guard and former teammate of Chris Paul, Marco Belinelli, on the Clippers having to play without Paul:
“They are a good team without C.P. They played yesterday, too, so it was a tough game for them. We played good defense.”
|Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on his message to the team at halftime:
“I really singled out Blake [Griffin], who I was the happiest with, because really we weren’t running anything in the first half. But D.C. (Darren Collison) just kept throwing it down to Blake. Blake was the one saying ‘That doesn’t work. We need ball movement.’ That is so unselfish. When you’re getting the ball all the time, and you’re the guy saying we need ball movement, I thought that was great.”
- Postgame: Blake Griffin | 1/4/2014Blake Griffin addresses the media following Saturday's game against the Spurs.
- Postgame: Doc Rivers | 1/4/2014Doc Rivers addresses the media following Saturday's game against the Spurs.
- Clippers vs. Spurs: First halfThe Spurs have four players in double-digit points at the break and San Antonio leads the Clippers at the half 70-35.
- Blake And-oneBlake Griffin takes the hit inside and gets the basket to fall.
- Blake Over DuncanBlake Griffin takes the feed from DeAndre Jordan and goes up and over Tim Duncan with the left-hand jam.
- Pregame News Conference: Doc Rivers | 1/4/13 (Part 1)Doc Rivers reacts to trade rumors reported by ESPN.
- Pregame News Conference: Doc Rivers | 1/4/13 (Part 2)Doc Rivers talks about Chris Paul's status and how he will handle guard rotation with him out.
- Darren Collison - 1/3/14Darren Collison talks about filling in for Chris Paul.
- Blake Griffin Postgame - 1/3/14Griffin discusses what it will take to win without Chris Paul.
- DeAndre Jordan Postgame - 1/3/14Jordan talks about recording his career-high in points.
- Doc Rivers Postgame - 1/3/14Doc Rivers talks about Chris Paul's injury.
- Dunk of the Night - DeAndre JordanChris Paul lofts it up to DeAndre Jordan who climbs Samuel Dalembert's back for the sick one-hand spike.
- Clippers vs. MavericksDeAndre Jordan scores a career-high 25 points to match Blake Griffin, and the Clippers rally to beat the Mavericks 119-112.
- DeAndre over DalembertChris Paul lofts it up to DeAndre Jordan who climbs Samuel Dalembert's back for the sick one-hand spike.
- Doc Rivers Pregame - 1/3/14Doc Rivers discusses playing on the road, coaching players with short fuses, and Blake Griffin's shooting prior to Friday's game in Dallas.
- CLIP SESSION Episode 11The top Clippers highlights from the past week.
- LACtv Preview: Clippers at MavericksThe Clippers begin their 2-game road trip with a visit to Dallas.
- Blake Griffin Jan 2Blake Griffin talks to media at Clippers practice Thursday.
- Doc Rivers Jan 2As the Clippers prepare for a 2 game trip, Doc Rivers addresses media at practice.
- Clippers Embrace Road ChallengeThe team maintains excitement as the Clippers set out for a challenging 2 game trip.
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By: Ben Haber | Follow @HaberBen