In the middle of what many see as the toughest stretch of the year, the San Antonio Spurs got a tight victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
Tim Duncan was the star of the show, scoring 34 points on 19 shots, including a game-winning 3 point play with 2.2 seconds left. Duncan’s 34 points is his highest mark since 2009. He also gathered 11 rebounds and had 3 assists.
Tony Parker also had a good game for San Antonio, scoring 24 points on just 15 shots, and he also distributed well, getting 8 assists.
For the Clippers, Chris Paul had 14 points on the night, and also racked up 12 assists. Blake Griffin had a bit of an off night, scoring 18 points on 20 shots. Jamal Crawford got hot off the bench in the second quarter, going 4-5 in the quarter. He finished with 16.
Manu Ginobili left the game in the first quarter due to some tightness in his right hamstring, the same one he has had a lingering injury with for a large part of the season. After the game, Coach Popovich said he would most likely be unavailable for Sunday’s game against the Miami Heat.
The next game for the Spurs is Sunday, April 1st, at 7:00 PM ET.
- Tim Duncan was amazing yet again in this win, posting one of his best stat lines of the year. The 36 year old posted 34 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks; and he dominated the Clippers all night long. He scored 19 points in the first half, dropping in 10 straight in the second quarter after briefly yelling at an official because of a missed call. That call pushed Duncan to the end, as he remained fiery all night long. Duncan ended up being the go-to guy tonight, getting a tough and-0ne jumper to fall late in the game. Friday’s performance was just the latest great game from Duncan, who has averaged 25.1 ppg, 13.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 3.0 bpg, and .580 FG in the past 7 games. He’s been rejuvenated lately, and no one can stop him.
- This is a bit of shameless self-promotion, so please just deal with me for a minute. The final play that the Spurs ran for Duncan, one they ran 3 times total in the game, with each one resulting in a basket, was a play that I’ve broken down before. I love this pindown screen for Duncan in the post, and he knows what to do with it. Alright, that’s enough patting myself on the back, let’s move on.
- Normally, I try not to bring attention to officiating. Even if there are a few bad calls in a game, I still try and concentrate on whatever the players did in the game, because no matter what happens they should play through it. But, even with that said, some attention has to be paid to the referees in this game. There was spotty officiating all the way around tonight, especially at the end of the game. The first issue was on the Clippers second to last possession. Before the ball was inbounded, Tony Parker was issued a dead-ball foul that gave the Clippers one free throw when the game was tied, and they kept the ball. The Clippers hit that free throw, and then missed their next shot. But, that play could have effectively decided the game, and a game being called on a dead ball foul because of holding onto a jersey should never happen. The other big questionable call came on the Clippers final possession after San Antonio took the lead. Chris Paul went up right after he got the ball, and it looked as though Tony Parker may have fouled him, but there was no call. In my opinion, it was probably a foul but I understand that it wasn’t decided because of the time remaining. Nonetheless, those are just two examples of a horribly officiated game. Hopefully next time the refs get it right.
- Coach Gregg Popovich did it again. He made a genius coaching move that may have swung the game for the Spurs. In the third quarter, when DeAndre Jordan checked in, every time the Clippers had the ball, the Spurs fouled him. The old Hack-A-DeAndre trick worked perfectly, as he missed his free throws, disrupted the flow of the game, and let the Spurs take a 6-2 run in a tightly contested matchup. While some consider the intentional fouling of a bad free throw shooting cheap (it’s very ugly to watch), I like it because of the strategy involved. In related news, I’m also a fan of flopping because I think it’s always a heady play by someone. I know, I’m weird.
- The Spurs bench was pretty bad tonight. They shot a combined 8-21 from the floor, totaling only 22 points to the Clippers 40. With Manu Ginobili out, there was a lack of playmaking from the bench, and the offense looked a bit stagnant, as everyone was standing around. While the starters were on their game and taking it to the Clippers starting five, the reserves kept leaving the door open for the Clippers to stay in the game. As we enter into the final stretch of the season, a good bench becomes a hot commodity as teams will choose to sit and rest their best players some more. Based on what happened tonight, and what’s happened recently, it will be an interesting storyline to see what will happen when San Antonio starts to do this.