Game #36 | January 4, 2014
AT&T Center | San Antonio, TX


24 7 10 2 3














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…


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.”



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By: Ben Haber | Follow @HaberBen

The monumental task of playing without Chris Paul begins Saturday in San Antonio.

Paul, the NBA’s assist leader and unquestioned leader of the Clippers, went down with a sprained right shoulder in the third quarter of their 119-112 comeback win over the Mavericks on Friday.

With Paul out for at least 3-5 weeks, the Clippers (23-12) will be tasked with sticking together.

“Obviously, Chris is one of the best players in the world,” Jamal Crawford said. “His passion for the game makes it always disheartening to see him in pain because he cares about the game so much. That’s even more of a reason to rally around each other and lean on each other.”

Darren Collison will start at point guard and Crawford will likely see time as a ball-handler as well. Doc Rivers said Friday night that he’s unsure how he will manage minutes without Paul and J.J. Redick (wrist/hand).

The Spurs (25-8) and Clippers are 3-1 in their previous four games. Saturday is the final game of a four-game home stand for San Antonio.

The Clippers easily defeated the Spurs, 115-92, on Dec. 16 at Staples Center and while they are 4-2 overall in their last six games against the Spurs, the Clippers have not fared well historically in San Antonio.

Over the last three seasons, the Clippers are 2-1 at AT&T Center, but they lost 16 games in a row in the Alamo City prior to their Mar. 9, 2012 win.

NOTEWORTHY MATCHUP: Jared Dudley vs. Kawhi Leonard.


Blake Griffin and Tim Duncan probably come to mind first, but Jared Dudley and Kawhi Leonard are respective x-factors. The Clippers don’t need Dudley to score to prevail and the same goes for the Spurs and Leonard. But it certainly helps.

Dudley is making 36 percent of 3-point shots this season compared to his career average of 40 percent. In spite of the slight drop off, Rivers remains confident in Dudley. Over the last two games, Dudley sunk 7-of-12 from beyond the arc. The Clippers are 7-0 when he makes at least three shots from 3-point range and 13-1 when he tops 10 points.

Leonard steps onto the hardwood notching 11.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The 22-year-old swingman was born in Los Angeles. After Leonard’s breakout playoff run, most thought Leonard would be more aggressive in 2013-14, which hasn’t always been the case. Still, San Antonio is 22-9 all-time when Leonard scores 15 points or more.


1. Extra Meaning. The Spurs and Clippers are only going to judged based on playoff performances. Games prior to mid-April are part of the long-term process. On the contrary, Saturday may mean slightly more than your usual early January encounter.

The last meeting between these teams was on Dec. 16, as the Clippers easily defeated the Spurs 115-92. The result didn’t cause Los Angeles to celebrate and it didn’t cause San Antonio to lose sleep, yet the outcome won’t be lost. The teams only meet three times this season and a victory by the Clippers on Saturday would clinch the season series and any tiebreaker with the Spurs.

2. Gold Standard. Since 1998-99, the Spurs have hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy four times and were a mere seconds away from winning the 2012-13 crown. Ray Allen and the Miami Heat had other plans.

Back in training camp, Rivers called the Spurs “the gold standard.” Year after year media members say the Spurs are too old. Despite the criticism, the Spurs are models of consistency. Going forward, the core of Rivers, Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan hope to boast a similar reputation to Gregg Popovich, Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

3. Three-point shooting. The importance of 3-point shooting has never been higher. Connecting on approximately 34 percent of long distance is about equivalent to 50 percent on two point shots. It is the ultimate equalizer.

The Spurs are taking advantage on their distance attempts, ranking No. 2 in the league at 40 percent. The options come from Matt Bonner, Marco Belinelli, Danny Green, Parker and more. Heading into the contest, closing out on those shooters will be among the Clippers top priorities.

Rivers places heavy emphasis on defending the deep attempts well and it has paid off, placing them at No. 4 in the league in 3-point defense.  


Paul (shoulder) will be re-examined in Los Angeles on Sunday and Monday and the Clippers will come up with more of a definitive timetable for his return… The Spurs announced they have recalled guard Nando De Colo from the D-League in advance of Saturday’s game… Clippers coach Doc Rivers played on the San Antonio Spurs from 1994-96… Stephen Jackson, the Clippers reserve forward, laced it up for the Spurs during 2001-03 and again in 2012-13… Jordan hails from Texas (Houston) and went on to attend Texas A&M…Griffin snatched a career-high 20 rebounds against San Antonio Feb. 18, 2012… Jordan and Duncan are at No. 5 and No. 6 in blocked shots, with 76 and 58, respectively… Saturday is the Clippers’ only game in San Antonio this season…


Dec. 16, 2013 at Staples Center: Clippers 115, Spurs 92

Jan. 4, 2014: at AT&T Center

Feb. 18, 2014: at Staples Center



Clippers Leaders:
Pts: Griffin/Jordan 25
Reb: Jordan 18
Ast: Paul 6

Last Time Out




Spurs Leaders:
Pts: Belinelli 32
Reb: Duncan 7
Ast: Ginoblli 12