Los Angeles Clippers – Making the Champions Look Old

Blake Griffin

For the first time after two failed tries, the Los Angeles Clippers finally have a win over the San Antonio Spurs, beating the defending champions 105-85 as Blake Griffin led the way with one of his best games this season, Chris Paul being good as always and DeAndre Jordan posing a big problem on defense for the opposition.

Griffin scored 31 points with 12 rebounds as the Clippers turned their defense up a notch in the second half, which helped them follow up on a very good second quarter in which they held the Spurs to just 17 points. They forced 17 turnovers off of the Spurs, scoring 23 points off of them. Even players like Spencer Hawes and Jamal Crawford got in on the defensive action with three steals each, as the Spurs gave up on this game rather early when they found out it just wasn’t their day.

Chris Paul scored 20 points as if to answer to those who think he doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star this season. DeAndre Jordan finished with 8 points, but he had 19 rebounds  (7 on offense) and four blocks, making both Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter look rather weak and even small. The Spurs were limited to just 24 points in the paint, couldn’t get the comfortable looks they usually get through ball movement and screens, shooting only 37.3% from the field. They were only 12-of-30 on shots from the paint, resulting in their lowest production close to the rim this season.

Things completely fell apart in the second half. They made only 23.5% of their 2-point field goal attempts and just 3-of-11 from inside the paint, showing just how hard it was for them to get a close range shot up in the air. The 23.5% shooting on 2-pointers was their worst such half this season, and the Spurs have had some bad games this season – this isn’t just a one time thing.

For the Clippers, this was one of those games that does show they have it in them to contend for this title, despite falling behind the Warriors and Grizzlies. Their defense can be at the same level we’ve seen from teams with better records, anchored by Jordan in the paint. It just needs to become more consistent.

As for the Spurs? We’ll know a lot more in March, which is usually the time things start picking up for them. We can talk about how Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are inconsistent offensively, or how Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw aren’t giving the Spurs what they did last season. But if one team needs and deserves to be measured and judged by a different set of parameters and expectations, it has to be the Spurs.

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