The Spurs tried to clinch a playoff spot against the struggling Clippers on Tuesday night, but couldn’t hang on in the 113-110 loss.
After a tumultuous season in which the San Antonio Spurs had one of the worst stretches of the Gregg Popovich era, San Antonio has gone 8-2 in their last 10 games and seems to have found their rhythm. After nearly falling out of playoff contention, the Spurs came into Tuesday night’s matchup with the Clippers ranked fourth place in the Western Conference and in a position to potentially clinch a playoff spot.
LaMarcus Aldridge feasted on the Clippers defense from the opening tip, scoring 13 points en route to a 17-3 advantage for San Antonio early. The Clippers struggled with turnovers on the offensive end, and couldn’t keep up with the Spurs ball movement on defense. San Antonio regressed slightly when Aldridge was subbed out later in the quarter, but maintained a 14-point lead going into the second.
The second quarter saw several major momentum shifts. The Clippers scored 5 straight to open the quarter, but the Silver and Black found their transition game and responded with an 18-9 run to take a 19-point lead. The Clippers hit back with a 17-2 run to cut San Antonio’s lead to 4 as the Spurs struggled to score. Ultimately, the Spurs were able to stop the bleeding and finish the quarter on a three-pointer from Rudy Gay to hang on to a 7-point lead at the half.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) April 4, 2018
The Clippers fought back again in the third quarter, and actually managed to take a 1-point lead on a free-throw by DeAndre Jordan. The Spurs rallied again, however, and stretched the lead back to 10 points. Several key baskets by Bryn Forbes allowed the team to keep a single-digit lead until late in the game, but a jumper by Lou Williams with 50 seconds to go put the Clippers on top, 106-105. Patty Mills responded with a three-pointer to put the Spurs back up by 2, but the Clippers found Austin Rivers for a three-pointer of their own after a timeout. Mills missed a pull-up jumper with 6 seconds to go that would have put the Spurs up by 1, and they lost the ball out of bounds on the rebound, forcing the Spurs to foul Williams on the inbound. Williams made both free throws to extend the Clippers lead to 3.
The Clippers immediately fouled Mills on the inbound, and made both free throws. The Spurs tried to force a turnover on the next inbound, but were forced to foul Tobias Harris with 2.9 seconds remaining. Harris made both free throws. Manu Ginobili stepped out of bounds while attempting a last-second three-pointer in what was the last chance to tie the game.
Aldridge led all scorers with 35 points and 9 rebounds in the loss, and Patty Mills added 17. For the Clippers, Tobias Harris scored 31 points and notched 9 rebounds, while Lou Williams scored 22.
The Spurs will look to rebound against the Lakers Wednesday night. Tip-off is 9:30 CST.