Back to back games? Visiting a fresh San Antonio Spurs team? Not playing with Chris Paul? Even though it did get a little bit embarrassing at times, it wasn’t very surprising to see the Los Angeles Clippers getting decimated by the Spurs.
As improved as Blake Griffin might be, and as good of a backup point guard Darren Collison is, the Clippers aren’t a very special team without Paul on the floor. It impacts pretty much everything that happens – from their offense IQ to energy on defense and rebounding.
It was over from the start. The Spurs led by 35 at half time, winning the first quarter 37-17 and the second one 33-18. The Clippers grabbed just one rebound in the first quarter. The Spurs found it very easy to move the ball around and create even easier shots, finishing with 55.6% from the field, despite making only 4-of-18 from beyond the arc.
The Spurs outscored the Clippers 76-44 in the paint, looking confused and broken during the first half. They made things a little bit more respectable by fighting in the second half in 24 minutes of garbage time, as Blake Griffin (19 points, 7 rebounds) and Jamal Crawford (24 points, 10 assists) managed to pad up their stats. They were also worried about making things work so they won’t have this kind of start in the next game.
No one has to replace Chris’ anything. Not his voice, not his game, nothing. Everybody does things differently. We don’t have any other guys that talk like Chris. It’ll work just fine. In the second half we were communicating with each other. That’s all we needed. We didn’t need anyone to talk like Chris. That would be our biggest mistake, is to try to replace him with someone or something.
For the Spurs? This wasn’t about humiliating the Clippers, but about fixing their mistakes from the loss to the New York Knicks (which is embarrassing on its own when you think about it). They realized very quickly who they’re dealing with on this specific night and went to work. Tim Duncan finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, including yet another curve-ball pass (as seen above) all over the court for the easy basket and time to mess around with Manu Ginobili on the bench, always a sign that things went a little too easily for the Spurs.
Tiago Splitter was dominant with 22 points and 5 rebounds, Tony Parker scored 17 points while Manu Ginobili added 15 from the bench.
It’s easier to do it once you play so bad the game before because you know the mistakes you made. We were really sharp from the beginning; our first half was great. Then we kind of stopped a little bit, but the first half was fun to watch. Everybody sharing the ball, attacking, being quick, rotations real sharp, really good first half.
While this doesn’t change anything for the Spurs except bringing back some confidence as they try and catch up with the Thunder and Blazers, the Clippers were given a harsh lesson, just like last season, of how life is like without Chris Paul. Doc Rivers should start focusing on helping his team adjust rather than wage a hopeless war against the ESPN rumor mill machine.