Five Takeaways: Balanced attack boosts Clippers past Spurs and first series win in 20 years
SAN ANTONIO - The Clippers have put together one of their better stretches of the season and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time.
On Saturday, the Clippers won their fifth in a row with a 98-87 victory over the Spurs at San Antonio. Chris Paul collected 19 points, eight assists, eight rebounds and three steals for the Clippers, who had all five starters reach double figures in scoring.
Blake Griffin delivered 18 points and eight rebounds, DeAndre Jordan contributed 17 points and 17 rebounds and J.J. Redick had 11 points. Luc Mbah a Moute added 10 points, while Jamal Crawford came off the bench to chip in 12.
“Whether we won or not tonight, I like how we’re playing,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
The Clippers took command late in the first half and dictated for much of the second half with the exception of a minor lull in the third quarter. The Clippers held a 52-43 edge at the break and never allowed the Spurs to seize the lead.
A 7-2 run to open the third allowed the Clippers to increase the margin to 59-45 after a 3-pointer by Redick a minute-and-half into the quarter. However, a 21-9 surge by the Spurs after a 3-pointer by Manu Ginobili pulled them within 68-66 with 4:01 remaining in the period.
But the Clippers answered with a 14-4 spurt to end the third for an 82-70 advantage heading into the final quarter.
In the fourth, the Clippers pushed the lead up to 14 again after a tip-in by Jordan with 7:47 left gave them a 90-76 advantage. The Spurs never got any closer than nine the rest of the way.
The Clippers are tied with the Utah Jazz for the fourth seed out of the Western Conference with two games remaining. If the Clippers win their final two contests, they will earn homecourt advantage in a first-round series against Utah.
The Clippers are at home for both games, facing the Houston Rockets on Monday and the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.
The Jazz, who lost to the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday to fall into a tie with the Clippers, visit the Golden State Warriors on Monday before closing their regular-season campaign Wednesday at home against the Spurs.
The Clippers hit 51.1 percent of their shots compared to 40.9 percent for the Spurs in the first half. For the game, the Clippers shot 50 percent to 42.5 percent for the Spurs. Jordan made 8 of 10 attempts, while Paul connected on 9 of 16 shots. Griffin managed just 7 of 19 shots, missing all four of his 3-pointers. But after a 2-for-10 first half, Griffin hit 5 of 9 in the second half.
The Clippers committed just one turnover in the first half and six overall. The Spurs also managed one miscue in the first half, but the Clippers forced them into 12 turnovers after intermission.
The Clippers won the regular-season series between the two clubs for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign, when they swept the Spurs in four games. That squad featured Loy Vaught, the late Lorenzen Wright, Stanley Roberts, Brent Barry, Pooh Richardson and Eric Piatkowski, among others.
The Clippers outscored the Spurs 48-32 on points in the paint. They also outrebounded San Antonio 37-33.
Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 28 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 18, but no other Spurs’ starter scored in double figures. Pau Gasol came off the bench to score 15 points.