It’s hard to think the San Antonio Spurs are actually overly concerned about getting beaten by 23 points against the Los Angeles Clippers. Tony Parker limping off into the locker room before the fourth quarter seems to be something they’re a bit more worried about.
It was his departure that sparked an excellent finish from the Clippers, outscoring the Spurs 37-22 in the final quarter, although allowing the Clippers to go on a 19-0 run as the offense had a complete meltdown, turning the ball over 22 times, certainly didn’t help.
On the Clippers side of the equation, it was a big night for both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. Griffin led the team with 27 points and 9 rebounds, not letting the Spurs get into his head. He went to the line 15 times, but was surprisingly efficient, hitting 11 shots. Chris Paul was remarkable, helping the Clippers keep the foot on the gas and maintaining a pace that was a bit too much for the Spurs, who weren’t in the right mindset to hold on. Paul had 23 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals, playing quite well with Jamal Crawford next to him in the starting lineup, with the usually Sixth-Man scored 17 points.
Blake Griffin is showing yet another step in his evolution as a player – from a highlight film to a complete power forward, basing his game on more than just athleticism. He didn’t need passing and vision as much as in other games, but his moves in the post and his ability to slightly stretch his shooting range have made him quite the spectacle to watch when he’s playing and charging ahead in full steam.
For the Spurs, even though it is their fifth loss which might cause them to lose the shared top spot in the West, there’s nothing to really worry about. This team, more than anyone else in the league except for the Heat, is always about the long haul and the end result way ahead in April, May or hopefully June. They’re picking up things from these losses, and not turning any defeat, even if it by 23 points into something of a mini crisis. Not being in the eye of the national media helps as well.
For the Clippers, this was one of those wins that makes them feel that they can compete with the best in the West, especially considering they were the dominant side from top to bottom. Doc Rivers still has a problem getting this kind of energy level from his players and turning it into a full-game effort from his players, even against the “big” teams, but little by little, it seems like the job is doing, or maybe purely by coincidence, is making them stronger and more prepared for the challenges of the postseason.
However, like everything in the NBA, sometimes it all hinges on the ability and health of just one player – Chris Paul. And all the big wins and impressive high-flying dunks won’t be any good if once again the system collapses when the playoffs arrives.