|CLIPPERS/SPURS RECAP - ERIC PATTEN|
It began with Manu Ginobili, who had 16 points in the first half. And by the time point guard Tony Parker ran off a personal eight-point stretch mid-way through the third, the veteran Spurs had paved their way to a 115-90 victory at AT&T Center in San Antonio.
Ginobili finished with 24 points, matching his total from the Spurs’ win over Memphis Monday, six assists, and 5-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.
“He moved the ball and ran the show when it was needed,” Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich said on Prime Ticket after the game. “His leadership in that regard is extremely important.”
Ginobili, though, had a lot of help.
Center DeJuan Blair put in 20 points and Richard Jefferson added 19 on 8-of-9 shooting. It was all part of a 56.3% effort from the field as a team. San Antonio (2-0) also nailed 10 of their 19 3-pointers (52.6%).
The game could be looked at as a learning experience for the new-look Clippers (1-1). San Antonio, one of the league’s model franchises, showed poise and efficiency, sending the Clippers back to Los Angeles with their first loss of the season and their 17th consecutive loss in the Alamo City.
Forward Blake Griffin tallied a game-high 28 points to go with nine rebounds. Chris Paul scored 10 with nine assists and center DeAndre Jordan finished with eight points, eight rebounds, three blocks and three steals. But it wasn’t enough for the Clippers, who shot 39.2% for the game and aside from a 35-point second quarter failed to score more than 19 in any other frame.
“We played terrible just from start to finish,” Clippers Head Coach Vinny Del Negro said on Prime Ticket. “We had a little glimpse in the second quarter, but that was it.”
After a back-and-forth first-half, the Spurs took control in the third quarter, outscoring the Clippers 38-17 to extend their lead to 25 points.
Griffin credited the Spurs for making tough shots during the run and said that while the Clippers struggled defensively their problems were “correctable.”
After winning the opening tip, L.A. could not have asked for a better first two minutes. They got a 3-point play on a driving layup from Caron Butler, two turnovers from the Spurs, a two-handed dunk from Griffin where he split Blair and Tim Duncan down the middle of the lane, and a block by Jordan on a Duncan layup.
But San Antonio immediately responded, led by a brilliant first-half performance from Ginobili. He ran off nine points in a row with two 3-pointers and three free throws after Chauncey Billups committed a foul on a 3-point attempt.
It was the second consecutive game the Clippers got off to a slow start. In Sunday’s win at Golden State they had six points in the first five minutes. And after scoring on their first two possessions Wednesday they went on a 0-for-8 drought exacerbated by two charging fouls. Jordan snapped the stretch with a follow dunk over Duncan after Griffin missed a twisting 6-footer.
The Spurs nabbed a 15-point lead in the second quarter but the Clippers came storming back. Butler, who scored 12 points on the night, made two threes and Billups knocked down another in transition. Paul assisted on all three baskets.
The Clippers finally drew even with 47 seconds left in the half on a dunk by Griffin that came off a steal by Paul and fine look away pass by Ryan Gomes. But as they did seemingly all night, the Spurs had a brilliant answer. Jefferson immediately responded with a 3-pointer and Ginobili dribbled away the clock before drilling a contested 3-pointer with five seconds to go.
San Antonio went on to score on 12 of their first 15 possessions of the second half, including six points from Duncan and eight by Parker.
Despite the lopsided loss, the Clippers made several highlight worthy plays. Jordan had his requisite dunks as did Griffin. But it was an effort play from the young star that stood out the most.
With 10:24 left in the second quarter. Griffin came from the baseline out of bounds to the opposite side of the rim, jumped above Splitter to chase down a miss by Mo Williams. Griffin was undercut on the play, but managed to dribble the ball and avoid traveling as he came crashing to the floor. Jefferson tried to tie him up and but Gomes astutely called timeout.
The Clippers wore black accessories with their road red uniforms, including Williams with a black headband. They did not wear black headbands in any games last season… Rookies Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins played the final four minutes of the game. Both players missed their lone shots and Leslie grabbed two rebounds… After shooting 4-for-12 from the free throw line at Golden State, Jordan swished his first three free throws Wednesday. He wound up 4-of-6 from the charity stripe… The Spurs scored 20 fast break points… The Clippers managed just 26 points in the paint and while they had several dunks, L.A. did not convert an alley-oop.