The Clippers team we saw Monday could look very different come Thursday. But this iteration of LA’s squad not named the Lakers did what it does best during a come-from-behind win over the Spurs at Staples Center.
It played rugged defense after halftime and relied on its superstars to lead the way on a late fourth quarter run that ultimately sealed the deal.
Paul George went for 19, 12, and 8 while Kawhi Leonard poured in a team-high 22 points as the Clippers out-executed the Spurs down the stretch, limiting San Antonio to just 42 second half points, to squeeze by with a 108-105 victory in front of 19,068 in downtown Los Angeles.
"We competed more. We got into ball pressure. The looks weren't as easy," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "So the defense in the second half won the game for us."
The Spurs led by as many as 15 points in the first half, mostly behind DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, but the San Antonio offense sputtered in the second half. The Spurs top two sorcerers were held scoreless the final 4 minutes of the fourth. Aldridge gave the Clippers issues throughout most the game as he finished with a game-high 27 points, 13 of which came in the fourth. He broke out against a Los Angeles team that had limited to 11.3 points per game average in their previous three meetings this season. DeRozan, meanwhile, had 21 at halftime and finished with 26. But he had his only shot attempt of the final period blocked by Leonard and the Spurs needed another bucket or two out of Aldridge. Credit the Clippers who clamped down defensively when it mattered most.
Los Angeles improved to 16-4 when Leonard and George play together. The superstars combined to score 12 of the Clippers 23 points in the fourth and it was a connection from Leonard to George on a driving layup that kicked off the game-changing 11-3 run with 2:40 to go. It was one of Leonard’s seven assists and one of the team’s 28. The Clippers are now 18-2 when they have 25 or more assists in a game this season.
Here are six other observations from Staples Center.