The San Antonio Spurs (26-8) defeated the Los Angeles Clippers (23-13) 116-92 on Saturday, Jan. 4 at a sold-out AT&T Center.
For most of the game San Antonio dominated Los Angeles, who were without All-Star point guard Chris Paul, and managed to set several season-highs along the way.
The Spurs started the game off shooting and moving the ball well, jumping out to a 37-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.
San Antonio shot a blazing 77 percent from the field, and had 12 assists all within the first quarter.
The Spurs’ 37 points marked a season high in points scored in the first quarter. San Antonio also outrebounded Los Angeles 16-to-1 in the first, setting a franchise record for opponent rebounds in the first quarter.
The Spurs held a 35-point lead at halftime, putting the game away early with the score 70-35. Although the Clippers would fight back to within 18 points, the Spurs would not give up their insurmountable lead.
“It’s hard to keep a thirty point lead in the NBA, its really rare. The other team was pretty good too,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich when asked why the Clippers fought back.
The Spurs’ 70 points at halftime, set a season high for most points scored in a half.
Spurs Center Tiago Splitter had 15 points at halftime, and would go on to have a team high 22 points for the game.
“He (Splitter) was great. He and Timmy passed to each other well and he moved well on the baseline,” Popovich said after the game.
Unfortunately for the Spurs, Tiago Splitter suffered a sprained right shoulder midway through the fourth quarter and will subsequently miss 3-5 weeks.
“Tiago is a big part of what we do. He’s very reliable and always in the right spot defensively, we’re going to miss him,” said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili when asked how Tiago Splitter’s injury will impact the Spurs. “But it’s a great opportunity for Jeff (Ayres) and Aron (Baynes) to play more minutes and get confidence.”
“It’s going to be a big loss for us. We’ll keep our finger’s crossed; he’s been playing great for us all year,” Spurs forward Tim Duncan added.
Duncan ended the game with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists, while Ginobili ended the game with 15 points off the bench, adding six assists and two rebounds. The Spurs moved the ball very efficiently against the Clippers, showing purpose with every pass. At the end of the game San Antonio had 34 assists, setting another season high.
“We want to move the ball and share the ball, its when we’re at our best. We use pick and rolls, ball movement and our shooters to spread the floor, we use all those things and we need to implement them every night,” Duncan said after the game.
The Spurs’ win comes after a loss the previous game against the lowly New York Knicks.
“These guy’s take a lot of pride; losing bothers them,” said Popovich after the game. “They come back pretty strong.”
The Spurs will go take on their in-state rival Dallas Mavericks (19-15) on Wednesday, Jan. 8 in what is sure to be an emotionally charged game at the AT&T Center.