Gameday Preview: Spurs vs. Clippers - 1/4/14
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The last time the Los Angeles Clippers played the San Antonio Spurs, Chris Paul turned in a terrific effort while Tony Parker left early.
Sadly, there won't be a rematch between these outstanding point guards.
The Clippers begin an extended period of time without Paul on Saturday night when they visit the Spurs.
Paul will miss three to five weeks after separating his right shoulder in Friday's 119-112 win at Dallas. He was tripped by Mavericks guard Monta Ellis while dribbling around a screen. He rolled over and stayed on the floor holding his shoulder while trainers attended to him.
"I don't think you could find one guy in the league, maybe LeBron or whoever, but besides that there's no one guy who can make up with what Chris brings," guard Jamal Crawford said. "For us we have to lean on each other."
Darren Collison, who started a game in November that Paul missed, will take over at point guard. Collison scored a season-high 20 points against Dallas.
Paul not only leads the league in assists per game but also entered play Friday averaging 7.4 minutes with the ball in his hands to rank third in the NBA. His average of 97.9 touches per game also ranked third.
"It changes for everybody," Collison said. "Everybody's got to step up and play big. But we'll be fine."
Paul had 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists Dec. 16 in a 115-92 win over San Antonio (25-8) in which Parker scored eight points before leaving with a right shin contusion.
That marked the Spurs' most lopsided loss of the season, but it didn't draw the kind of harsh words that coach Gregg Popovich has had about his team's last two defeats - calling both of them "embarrassing."
He said that about a loss to Houston on Christmas and again when San Antonio's three-game win streak ended Thursday with a 105-101 home loss to lowly New York.
"I thought they were much more physical than we were and most of the time, physical, aggressive teams are going to win in the NBA, that's just the way it is," Popovich said. "I thought we were very poor in that area. We should be embarrassed by how soft we played tonight."
Spurs star Tim Duncan didn't take the bait when asked about his coach's comments, pointing to the fact that the game was tied with 34 seconds to go.
"We have all the plays right in front of us even though we were soft and whatever else we are," Duncan said.
The defeat overshadowed Marco Belinelli's career-high 32 points.
Los Angeles (23-12) has won two of its last three regular-season games in San Antonio after losing 40 of its previous 43 there.
Without Paul, the Clippers figure to lean more on their frontcourt of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Each scored 25 and posted double-doubles Friday, with Jordan grabbing 18 boards and Griffin 15.
Griffin had 27 points and nine rebounds in the first meeting while Duncan countered with 17 and 11.
The Clippers' depth will also be tested against a Spurs team that leads the NBA with 46.3 points per game from its reserves. San Antonio also leads the Western Conference in field goal percentage at 48.5.
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