Clippers had chances early, Spurs executed late to pick up quality win on the road


LOS ANGELES — Monday was the first night of a road back-to-back for the Spurs and everyone knows what that means for Gregg Popovich — he’ll shut his stars down and conserve the fuel for the next night if he feels the game is getting out of hand.

The Clippers had their chances to make that a reality — San Antonio shot 5-of-22 in the first quarter and with Tiago Splitter out (at least another week with a calf injury) the Clippers were getting shots inside, primarily Blake Griffin who went to the rim hard all night.

San Antonio was 9-of-36 on uncontested shots. (Oddly, they shot 51.1 percent on the shots the Clippers contested.)

Yet the Clippers never pulled away. It was a six point game after one quarter, and while the lead got up to 10 at one point by the half it was just 42-39 Clippers. The Spurs just hung around and hung around.

Then they looked like champions starting with just 5:30 left in the game — the Spurs went on a 12-0 run to take the lead, Kawhi Leonard was a defensive beast on Chris Paul, and San Antonio made enough plays to pick up an 89-85 win.

“To me those are the best games,” said Matt Bonner, who started for the Spurs with Splitter out but didn’t help their three-point shooting, San Antonio was 2-of-19 from deep for the game. “I don’t want to say it’s ever easy to win, but it’s a lot easier to win when you’ve got 13, 14, 15 threes in a game. When you’re not making shots you have to find other ways, and tonight it was defense and just making gritty plays, especially down the stretch.”

“It’s tough,” Paul said after the game. “They basically gave us a clinic down the stretch on how to close out a game. The fought part about it was the turnovers. That was very uncharacteristic of us turning the ball over like we did, and they converted.”

Specifically, Kawhi Leonard had a big game. The Clippers have struggled to defend good wings all season and Leonard had 26 points (tying a career high) on 10-of-18 shooting. The Spurs aren’t usually a team that calls many specific plays, but with other guys being cold from the floor (Tony Parker 3-of-13, Bonner 2-of-10, Duncan 6-of-14) the Spurs leaned on Leonard, knowing Jamal Crawford can’t defend him.

“We ran more plans for (Leonard) tonight than I ever have in his career,” Popovich said. “That’s the plan. We’ve got to start giving him the ball. He’s the future. I don’t think Tim (Duncan) and Manu (Ginobili) are going to play any more than six or seven more years.”

That’s Popovich humor. He could afford to laugh. He thought his team played their best game of the season. They moved the ball and he thought their pick-and-roll defense was more consistent and the best they had played this season. They did everything, save for make shots.

That left the door open and the Clippers had a chance with 10 seconds left and down two. Paul drove and got a fairly clean look at a little four-foot runner.

“I missed,” Paul said. “It was a great play. I told Coach I wanted the ball, he drew it up, but I missed.”

Both of these teams have looked sloppy to start the season. With the Spurs, it has just looked like a championship hangover that we all just kind of overlook because we have seen them raise their level as the season has worn on for so many years.

With the Clippers, the questions — particularly about their defense — are a little more pressing. The Spurs get the benefit of the doubt because of their history, the Clippers do not and they have not seemed to build on what they had last year. At least not yet.

And they know this was a night to catch the Spurs on a bad shooting night, and they blew it. This was a rough loss for Los Angeles.

DeAndre Jordan climbs the ladder for another alley-oop (VIDEO)


The Clippers may be the least impressive 4-2 team in the NBA, their defense has been bad and their offense spotty.

Still, some things have not changed for the Clippers. For example, DeAandre Jordan knows how to finish.

That became evident during the third quarter Saturday when Jordan threw down the alley-oop from Chris Paul.

The Clippers used a strong second half to come back and beat the Trail Blazers, 106-102,

After another sloppy, lackadaisical game from Clippers, Doc Rivers went off on team


Doc Rivers did everything but throw bats in the showers and call them lollygaggers.

The Clippers got their doors blown off by Golden State Wednesday night and if you watched the previous four L.A. games it wasn’t really a shock — the team has had long stretches of sloppy, disinterested play in all their games. It frankly is more of a surprise (and speaks to the talent level on this team) that they are still 3-2 this season. This is not a team working to build off last season’s success (that’s what Golden State looked like), the Clippers are a team coasting and expecting things to just come to them.

That frustrated Doc Rivers, who first held a long team meeting after the game, then when he didn’t think that went well vented to the media about his team. Dan Woike of the Orange County Register laid out all of Doc’s quotes, starting with what went on in that postgame meeting.

“I didn’t say much. I just let them blow smoke up each other’s asses. That’s all they did, in my opinion. I just think if you’re going to talk, you’ve got to be real. I’m not a big fan of group meetings unless they’re real group meetings.”

Okay… how did Blake Griffin play?

“He has to rebound better. Our guys have to give him room. There was no space today. Listen, Blake is a great player, but if we give him no space, no room, there’s no ball movement, there’s no people movement and there’s no hard cuts, you can guard Blake. The way we moved on the floor tonight…Were we tired? We may have been. Was it five games in seven nights? But what we lacked was heart. I don’t mind being tired, and we can use that as an excuse, but listen, I just know me. If I’m tired and getting my butt kicked, I’m going to leave the game with no fouls left. That, to me, was just weak on our part. I’ve got to do something better. Alright? We have holes on our team, I know that. But, we should be covering up for them. I don’t think we’re doing a very good job. We’re leaving the guys that aren’t good defenders on an island instead of being there to help them. Right now, this is not the same group from last year. And it’s the same group. So, we have to figure that out.”

What about Steve Kerr’s Warriors?

“They came here to kick our butts. David Lee, it looked like he worked out for a month just to get back for this game. I mean, my God. They were running to this game. And we ran away from the game.”

It’s November, it is way, way too early to make any sweeping assessments of where any team in the league is, that includes the Clippers. It will be more telling to see where these teams are when they face off again Christmas Day, but even then we’re in the first half of the marathon.

After Wednesday’s game Doc was trying to light a fire that he shouldn’t have to ignite — that’s on Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the other leaders on this team. The Clippers did not come out this season looking like a team that wanted to work and take that next step to be contenders, they came out coasting like they thought hey already were. And it shows.

They are still a talented and good team, but they are not looking like a team that has the fire it will take to get out of the deep West this season come the playoffs. Golden State does. The good news for Clippers fans is that it is very, very early in the season. Right now nothing is set in stone.

Warriors thrash Clippers, look like class of California, contenders


There are no statement games in the first week of November.

But Golden State came just about as close to making one as a team can Wednesday night.

The Warriors shot the ball well — 60 percent from three for the game — and defended well. Golden State looked every bit the contender and the best team in the Pacific Division.

The Clippers, who have fancied themselves contenders, continued their season-long trend (well, just five games but still) of playing disinterested, sloppy ball.

Los Angeles finally paid a price for that malaise — a 121-104 easy win for the Warriors that wasn’t even that close. The Warriors went on a 14-2 run midway through the first quarter and never looked back, leading by 29 early in the third quarter. The Warriors had 65 first half points and 102 after three quarters. The Clippers’ Jamal Crawford helped spark a garbage-time run — and the entire fourth quarter was garbage time — to make the score look more respectable, But it wasn’t.

This was an old-school beatdown.

Reading too much into any one game in November is foolish, but there are two things worth taking away here.

First, the Warriors may be legit title contenders. They came into the season considered a team on the fringe of contending (a step behind the Clippers) but Steve Kerr has them still playing strong defense — 90.5 points allowed per 100 possessions so far this season, best in the NBA. Second, they are running smarter, more complex sets that better use the personnel on their roster. The rest was Stephen Curry going 4-of-8 from three, Klay Thompson hitting 3-of-4, and the starting backcourt finishing with 47 points on 31 shots. Curry abused CP3 off the dribble all night.

The Warriors other guys are stepping up, too — Draymond Green started (David Lee came off the bench and tweaked his hamstring again) and finished with 24 points on 13 shots. The result of this is a Top 10 offense so far (again, it’s early).

Teams with top 10 offenses and defenses are title contenders. If the Warriors keep playing like this they are that.

The Clippers are a long way from contending — and Doc Rivers is very frustrated. This is not a team building off last year, it looks like a team starting from scratch. From Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports and Dan Woike of the Orange County Register:

The Clippers offense seems to miss Alvin Gentry — now the lead Warriors assistant coach to Kerr — as this season it has been stagnant. The Clippers defensive rotations have been and were again sloppy. But most of all this team is just not playing with any heart, any fire. That’s not on Doc Rivers, that’s on Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. They need to lead.

The Warriors are playing with fire — they lost to the Clippers in the playoffs last year and that lit a fire under this team, one that Kerr is turning into an inferno.

It wasn’t a statement game from Golden State and the Clippers have a lot of time to figure things out.

But right now, Golden State is lightyears ahead of where Los Angeles is. We’ll see if things feel different when these teams meet on Christmas Day.

Chris Paul notches first triple-double as member of the Clippers (VIDEO)


The Clippers haven’t been very impressive to start the season, but they have a 3-1 record after four games nonetheless. They gave back all of a 15-point second half lead before pulling away against the Jazz on Monday, with the bright spot being Chris Paul’s first triple-double since coming to Los Angeles in advance of the 2012 season.

Paul finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists to notch his 12th regular-season triple-double, and the 14th overall to this point of his career.

[via Triangle Offense]