Unlike Game 3 of last year’s semfinals, in which the San Antonio Spurs eliminated a 24-point deficit early in the second quarter, the Los Angeles Clippers closed out the game on their home floor.
In the 106-84 victory yesterday, the Clippers shot 55.3 percent from the field, building the lead from six points in the first to 20 points entering the fourth frame.
With an unlikely offensive contribution from center DeAndre Jordan, who threw down four dunks in the first seven minutes of the third, the Clippers jumped out to double-digit lead in which they would not reliqunish. Jordan, a career six point per game scorer, scored 20 points while grabbing 11 boards.
Reserve Eric Bledsoe also chipped in 15 points and five assists in 22 minutes.
Despite being one of the league’s slowest paced teams last season, the Clippers flipped the script on an already befuddled San Antonio team. The Spurs keyed the counter attack with 20 turnovers, helping them attain a six-point advantage in transition and a 22-point advantage in points in the paint.
Chris Paul, averaging 18.5 points and 11.5 assists entering last night, topped his average with 12 assists. As he only attempted eight shots, scoring wasn’t a huge priority with his teammates shooting well.
His running mate, Blake Griffin, led the team in scoring (22 points). Griffin flashed a decent mid-range jumper and a smooth post move that thwarted power forward Boris Diaw in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the Spurs offense was floundering. Tim Duncan and Danny Green were the only Spurs in double-figures, scoring 10 and 12 points, respectively.
The backcourt duo of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting.
With the loss — their first regular season loss in the last 15 games, dating back to last season — the Spurs drop to 4-1.
Foul trouble? Generally one of the most foul prone teams in the league, the Clippers — especially the frontcourt tandem of Griffin and Jordan — didn’t concede as many free throws this time around. The majority of their fouls were committed by reserves Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins, both adding four personal fouls respectively.
Transition: As much as the Clippers defense is flawed, they were able to expound enough energy defensively to create in transition. Bledsoe, especially, and even the seven-foot Jordan were the beneficiary of the high octane pace. The Clippers, who averaged less possessions per 48 minutes than all but four teams last season, beat the Spurs in transition. Handily, too, as they held a 22 points advantage.
Securing the glass/ball: The Clippers generated five fewer turnovers than the Spurs, who tallied 20 — eight belonging to the point guard rotation of Parker and Gary Neal.
Next opponent: The Spurs continue their west coast road trip against the Sacramento Kings Friday. Their third game in five nights will be televised locally on Fox Sports Southwest (FSSW) at 9:00 p.m. CST.