After four consecutive losses, it seems that some rest and rebooting did the San Antonio Spurs a world of good, led by Tony Parker and Tim Duncan in a 125-118 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, continuing their tradition of folding in every big test they’ve had this season on the road.
Tony Parker missed five games and came back with a vengeance, scoring 26 points to lead the Spurs after four straight losses which included two defeats in triple overtime games. Things went so well for them they set season high in points, field goal percentage and assists, hitting 63.6% of their shots (56.5% from beyond the arc) and 37 of their 49 field goals came off assists. As always, the love was shared, but Manu Ginobili led the way with 10 dishes.
Tim Duncan helped out with 21 points and 12 rebounds while Boris Diaw, after a series of bad games, enjoyed what was probably his best of the season. The moment Diaw is put in a secondary role he thrives, scoring 23 points on 9-of-11 from the field, adding six rebounds to the cause. Tiago Splitter was back in the lineup, scoring six points in 18 minutes, while Danny Green hit three times from beyond the arc. Kawhi Leonard however is still missing and will continue to be out for quite some time.
The Clippers got strong performances from four of their players but all of them seemed to regress in crunch time, which is an alarming phenomenon that keeps repeating itself when they play on the road. Chris Paul led the way with 25 points, Blake Griffin had 23, J.J. Redick finished with 21 and Jamal Crawford was on the floor for the team’s better moments in the game, scoring 18 points. Yet no matter how many players the Clippers sign to their bench, it always seems to be missing someone or short of an important piece, not to mention Hedo Turkoglu, who doesn’t look like someone who should be playing in this league anymore.
Of all the players resting or missing, the return of Parker is the most important. He has been out in eight of the last nine games, causing the Spurs to fall quite far down the standings in the very difficult Western conference. They’re obviously not out of the running for the number one spot and home field advantage; not when it’s only December. However, they have made things a bit more difficult for themselves with recent difficulties. Everything does look a lot simpler and easier with Parker back from injury.
He says he feels great. I’m scared to death about it, but I’m just going to trust him. He has been around for a long time, and he doesn’t want to reinjure himself. Hopefully, he’s OK. It was a great relief for everybody to have him back, and he made us play better and with more confidence.