Ok, so my title is a bit strong. The Spurs did not stink, but this was nowhere near their best game. The stats tell a lot of the story: 18 turnovers (and 24 points off of those turnovers), 17 points off transition for the Clips, a poor shooting night for the team MVP, and 29 1st-quarter points. And yet, it’s a 16-point win. Pop’s a happy man: double-digit win and lots to harp on in the film room tomorrow.
On the good side of the ledger, I thought the Spurs played about 15 minutes of good offense (mostly in the 3rd quarter stretch when they built the lead) and about 25 minutes of good defense, consisting of the last 5 minutes of the 2nd quarter and the last 15 meaningful minutes of the game. That, apparently, is enough to beat the Clippers after a tough 7-game series with the Grizzlies.
Song of the Game: Rusted Root, “Send Me on My Way”
I heard this song on a TV commercial a few days ago and it made me happy and sad. Happy, because it reminded me that this was a great song and album (1994′s When I Woke). Sad, because it’s now used to sell cars, or something like that.
I also thought about this song tonight in the 3rd quarter, when I realized I’m over this series already. I don’t think the Clippers can beat the Spurs and I think it will be short. So, send me on my way. When can we start Spurs-Thunder?
Play of the Game: Manu Tres
At the 4:18 mark of the 3rd, the Spurs led by 10 and it was time to put some distance between the two teams. The play begins with a great Parker-Diaw pick-and-roll on the right side. Tony made a pinpoint pass that split Griffin and Paul and left Boris wide open rolling to the hoop. All of the other three Clippers began to collapse, but Diaw throws a one-handed fastball to Stephen Jackson in the far corner, who sees Eric Bledsoe closing out and whips a pass to a so-wide-open-it’s-ridiculous Manu on the left wing. Bang, the lead is 13 and the Spurs never looked back.
This play personified the best parts of the Spurs offense tonight. Four of five Spurs players touched the ball, Boris and Tim were in great rebounding position if it missed, and it ended with a wide-open shot where everyone was in the right spot and the ball moved exactly where it needed to go. This play was a back-breaker for LA. And, my word, this team is fun to watch when they are passing like that.
Trending Up: Duncan, Diaw, Green/Leonard, Bledsoe
I hate when the analysts say Tim had a “turn back the clock game” because 2003 Timmy probably goes triple-double on these Clippers. He’s not that Timmy anymore, but on certain nights, he can be really, really good, especially in the 2nd half, when he was 6-9 for 14 points and 7 boards.
Wayne tweeted that Diaw was the MVP midway through the 3rd quarter and it’s hard to argue. He played solid defense on Blake, he led the team in rebounding (12 total, 5 offensive), and chalked up 5 assists with no turnovers, all in 27 minutes (The Clippers went to a smallball lineup in the 4th to try and come back, which left Diaw with no 4th quarter minutes). Make all the fat jokes you want about Boris, Twitterverse; the guy knows how to play basketball.
Here’s a prediction: if the Spurs get 31 points and 12 boards out of two young wings, who also play solid defense on Chris Paul, that’s going to be a win. I thought Green and Leonard were very, very good tonight and their shooting turned a comfortable margin into a large one. Plus, each hounded CP3 in different ways and made him move to uncomfortable spots on the floor.
Holy crap. Now we know why the Clips were hesitant about including Bledsoe in the Chris Paul deal. He was easily the best Clipper on the floor tonight.
Trending Down: Tony, Splitter, Bonner, Jordan
It’s hard to gripe about 11 assists, but Tony shot the ball terribly. He was clearly the defensive focus of the Clipper game plan and it showed, but he still found ways to contribute. I expect a much better game from him Thursday.
Splitter played 12 mostly useless minutes tonight and finished a team-low -11.
Bonner apparently hurt his hand, but he only played 8 minutes and did not take a shot. Somehow, he got credit for a blocked shot, though I sure don’t remember it.
At the beginning of the season, DeAndre Jordan was being touted as a solid NBA center. I don’t see it. He just disappeared against Memphis, so that DelNegro had to play Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans big minutes. Against the Spurs, Diaw killed him on the glass and he could not get back to contest Timmy’s jumpers. Not sure what all the hype was about.
Stat of the Game: #1
74% (29-39) assisted baskets tonight. That is ball movement and it is beautiful.
Stat of the Game: #2
Of the Spurs 80 shots, 40 were shots in the paint and 25 were treys. That means 15 shots of mid-range depth, the least efficient shot in the game. And most of those were Tim Duncan makes.
In our Fanalysis, I took the Clippers in 5, but the NBA TV crew in tonight’s postgame pointed something out I had not considered. The back-to-back for Games 3 & 4 may actually favor the rested Spurs more than the weary Clippers. That will be their 5th game in 8 days and with the injuries to Paul and Griffin, that’s less recovery and treatment time for their two key guys. Plus, the Spurs depth certainly favors them in a quick turnaround like that. If the Spurs are 3-0 after Saturday, Sunday may see a very tired and demoralized Clipper team.
But first things first: a win on Thursday.