Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) – San Antonio’s defense clamped down in
the final minutes and took its first lead with less than two minutes left.
Outplayed throughout, the Spurs figured out a way to avoid their worst start
in six years.
Kawhi Leonard netted 26 points to go with 10 rebounds and forced a pair of key
steals late to lift the Spurs to an 89-85 triumph over the Los Angeles
Clippers on Monday night.
Chris Paul’s runner staked the Clippers to an 82-75 advantage with 5:49 left,
but endured a five-plus minute scoreless drought as San Antonio ripped off 12
Jamal Crawford was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 25.8 ticks remaining and
made all three to pull LA within 87-85 before Manu Ginobili missed a pair of
free throws at the other end.
Paul’s driving layup, however, didn’t drop and Blake Griffin was called for a
technical foul while he attempted to call a timeout on the floor with 1.4
seconds to go. The Clippers didn’t have any timeouts left.
Tony Parker missed the technical freebie, but Leonard sunk two foul shots to
seal the outcome.
“A hard loss,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “In the last four or five
minutes of the game, we had some bad turnovers. Too many empty possessions.
Give them credit, they did a lot of good things down the stretch.”
Tim Duncan posted 18 points and 11 rebounds and Parker added 13 points and
five assists for the Spurs, who moved to 3-3 on the young campaign. The team
was on the verge of getting off to their worst start since beginning the
2008-09 season 2-5.
“We played good one-on-one defense. We were more consistent with our pick and
roll,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
San Antonio won despite going just 2-of-19 from beyond the arc.
Griffin tallied 23 points, 10 boards and six assists, while Paul finished with
12 points, 10 rebounds and nine helpers for Los Angeles, which played the
second of a four-game homestand.
Once the Clippers went up seven, Duncan netted the first six points of San
Antonio’s 12-0 surge.
The Spurs then forced turnovers on three straight possessions. Leonard’s swipe
of Griffin led to a layup, Boris Diaw intercepted Paul’s alley-oop attempt to
DeAndre Jordan, which resulted in a Diaw floater at the other end, and another
Leonard steal was eventually converted into a Ginobili layup to cap the burst.
Earlier, the Clippers led 20-14 after one and headed into the break with a
San Antonio, which began 0-for-13 from downtown, got consecutive triples from
Matt Bonner and Leonard to trim the gap to 51-50 early in the third.
LA took a 70-64 cushion into the fourth.
The Spurs have won 57 of their last 66 meetings with the Clippers … San
Antonio scored 24 points off of 17 Clippers turnovers … LA shot 44.6 percent
(33-of-74) from the floor, while San Antonio finished 39.8 percent (33-of-83)
from the field.