POSTGAME REPORT: CLIPPERS 92, SPURS 87 - 11/19/12

SAN ANTONIO­ – With the Spurs making a push to come back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit, the Clippers did two things in the final minute of play: got consecutive stops and put the ball in Chris Paul’s hands.

Paul converted a tough turnaround jumper in the lane to stretch the Clippers’ lead to four with 24.3 seconds remaining and the Clippers escaped AT&T Center with a 92-87 win on the opening game of a four-game road swing.

It was their sixth win a row and second over the Spurs (8-3) in the last 12 days. The Clippers are 8-2 after 10 games for only the second time in franchise history.

“I told all the guys that we used to say in New Orleans, and even here last year, on these road trips, sometimes they say 2-2 would be great, this and that would be great,” said Paul, who finished with a team-high 19 points. “But at the end of the day, I always say, ‘You can’t win them all without winning the first one.’ You have to set the tone in the first game and this is a place you can easily come into a get blown out.”

Paul’s basket was sandwiched between two misses by Gary Neal. One, a runner over Eric Bledsoe, could have tied the game with 40 seconds to go, and the other was a contested 3-pointer from the corner in attempt to pull the Spurs within one.

San Antonio jumped out to a 28-18 lead at the end of the first quarter. But the Clippers held the Spurs to just 35.4% from the field. It’s the second game in a row L.A. held an opponent to less than 36% shooting and second time this season the Spurs have failed to top 40% against the Clippers.

Small forward Caron Butler left the game in the first half with a strained right shoulder and did not return. He is currently listed as day-to-day.


Difference Maker, Part 1: Ronny Turiaf. After Ryan Hollins fouled out with 9:47 to go, Turiaf, who has played sparingly in the last two games, entered and managed consecutive tip ins off Jamal Crawford misses, grabbed three rebounds, contested shots and saved a ball out of bounds off Tiago Splitter, stemming the tide of any Spurs momentum.

“On the bench I said, ‘That’s a true professional, right there,’” Blake Griffin said. “He didn’t play much the last two games and came in at a critical time: putback, putback, rebounds, blocks, that’s tough to do.”

Turiaf finished with four points and three rebounds in 5:10 of playing time in the fourth.

Difference Maker, Part 2: Matt Barnes. With Butler absent from the lineup 9 minutes into the game, Barnes stepped in and filled the void. He defended herky-jerky guard Manu Ginobili, grabbed nine rebounds, and was a catalyst for a 23-5 second-quarter run. During one stretch, Barnes scored on three consecutive offensive-rebound put backs.

Turning Point: Bledsoe snatched a rebound off a miss by Paul and laid it back in with 1:40 left. The play answered a Matt Bonner 3-pointer. Bledsoe preserved the possession about 20 seconds earlier after he missed a 3-pointer from the left wing and tracked down a long carom.

“They were looking for Chris and Jamal [Crawford], so I just kind of played off them,” Bledsoe said. “All eyes were on them, so I just kind of snuck in and got the rebound.”

Stat Line of the Night/Day: Tim Duncan. The future Hall of Famer accrued game-highs in points (20) and rebounds (14), wet 8-for-10 from the foul line and had two blocks.

More Stats: 

Paul. In addition to his game-clinching shot, Paul had eight assists and four rebounds with 19 points. He also converted his only foul shot after Duncan was whistled for third-quarter technical foul.

Griffin. He tallied his fifth double-double of the year with 16 points and a team-high 12 rebounds, including three of the Clippers’ 17 offensive rebounds.

Hot: The Clippers on the glass. Nearly all of the most notable plays, outside of Paul’s turnaround, came as a result of a retaining a possession by beating the Spurs to the ball. L.A. had a 52-42 rebounding advantage and a 17-13 edge on the offensive boards.

Not: Ginobili and Tony Parker. Two-thirds of San Antonio’s “Big 3” was rendered rather ineffective for the second straight meeting with the Clippers. Barnes was slated to guard Ginobili for most of the night and Bledsoe, Paul and Willie Green alternated turns on Parker. The two Spurs combined to go 8-for-22 from the field with four turnovers.

Quotables:

On the way the game played out:

Vinny Del Negro: “It is a great win for us. You know San Antonio is going to keep playing hard. We didn’t do a very good job at the end we gave a couple threes up, but our guys battled and hit some big shots. “

Gregg Popovich: “The Clippers played aggressively and competed at a top level for 48 minutes and we didn't match that. Of all of our games, this game was in the soft category. We never had five guys that competed hard enough to win the basketball game. The Clippers took it with their aggressiveness and their toughness, both mentally and physically.

On starting off the road trip with a win:

Griffin: “It’s a good win, a good road win, but at the same time the season is still very young and we’ve still got a lot of road games left to play.”

On the Clippers’ defensive effort:

Barnes: "We just know we’re a handful on the offensive end and if we can start controlling the defensive end that’s when we’re really going to start winning games and making an imprint in this league.”

On his final shot:

Paul: “I knew I wanted to shoot it. I didn’t know how it was going [to happen], I just needed a little bit of space. I mean, I love those situations when it’s winning time.”

Notes: The Clippers finished with 17 turnovers and 13 assists. It’s the first time this season they have won with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio… Crawford had 11 points off the bench. In two games against the Spurs he’s scored 21 points… Spurs forward Stephen Jackson suffered a non-displaced fracture in his pinky in the first quarter. He returned briefly but was ruled out a few minutes later. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks… Bonner had 10 points in 10:52 for the Spurs, including two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter… It is the seventh consecutive game the Clippers have held an opponent to worse than 46% shooting… L.A. had a 56-36 advantage in the paint… DeAndre Jordan had 13 points and two blocks, despite playing just 26 minutes after Del Negro used Barnes at power forward and Griffin at center for much of the fourth quarter. 

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