The San Antonio Spurs took their 9-game winning streak into Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Saturday, but they left Los Angeles with a victory and two costly injuries.
The Spurs were led by Tony Parker’s 30 points and 10 assists, while Gary Neal added 17 points off the bench, as the Spurs defeated the Clippers 103-100 in overtime. The Spurs however, lost Tiago Splitter to a sprained right calf in the first quarter, and Manu Ginobili later in the game with a strained left oblique muscle.
The Clippers came out with an 8-0 run to start the game, mainly behind sound defense that held that Spurs to just 15 points in the first quarter, and 3-of-14 shooting outside of the paint. Blake Griffin (22 points, 20 rebounds) had 10 points in the quarter as the Clippers lead 26-15 after one. Splitter suffered his injury in the first quarter while DeJuan Blair (10 points) had six points.
The Spurs began the second quarter with a 9-3 run fueled by Matt Bonner (13 points). The Clippers responded with their own 5-0 run to lead by 10 points, 38-28. Then, Tim Duncan (11 points, 17 rebounds), Parker, and Bonner sparked the Spurs as they closed the quarter on a 17-5 run to go into halftime with a 45-43 lead. Ginobili’s injury may have occurred in the second quarter or later as he was only marginally in the game. The Spurs’ defense was the story in the second quarter as they held the Clippers to just 17 points, and Griffin to just three points.
The Spurs began the third quarter with a major 20-7 point push behind Parker and Danny Green (11 points) to lead 65-50. The Clippers responded with a 17-0 run lead by Randy Foye (21 points) to take a 67-65 lead before Gary Neal ended the run with a much-needed three pointer. When the buzzer sounded, the Spurs’ once 15-point lead was all but gone as they held a 70-67 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter started with two top point guards going into a head-to-head battle as Chris Paul (21 points) had 17 points in the fourth quarter, and Parker had 12 points. Both teams kept their clubs in the game, then as the Spurs were down 95-92 with time winding down, Neal turned the ball over and the Clippers recovered. As the Clippers inbounded the possession, Paul threw the ball straight to Neal and Neal hit a wide open clutch three with time winding down. The Spurs and Clippers were headed into overtime tied at 95.
In overtime, Bonner and Neal were the heroes as they each hit one clutch three as the Spurs outscored the Clippers 8-5 in extra time. The Spurs held on for the 103-100 victory.
The Spurs are now 22-9 on the season, stretch their winning streak to 10 games, are now 9-8 on the road, and are 6-0 on the Rodeo Road Trip. The team will have Sunday off before heading to Utah on Monday to face the Jazz.
There was no timetable set for Splitter or Ginobili’s injuries after the game, but I checked two health websites to see the timetable for a regular human body. A strained left oblique muscle (Ginobili) takes 3-4 weeks to recover. And depending on the severity of the strained right calf (Splitter), the injury can take 2-8 weeks for recovery. Remember, these are just general timetables.
Stay tuned with Project Spurs as we’ll be bringing you more news on the length of the injuries to both Splitter and Ginobili.
Oof... As soon as I heard the Clipper announcers break the Tiago injury, I felt like I got punched in the gut. He was playing so well. Let's just hope that this is going to be another "blessing in disguise" that will allow Tiago to get some extra rest. It's unbelievably disappointing nonetheless even considering how beneficial it would have been for Tiago's psyche to participate in all the All Star extravaganza. Not to mention, WTF are we going to do down there with a rotation of Timmy, Matt, and DeJuan.. I sense a call up or some kind of addition. There is no way Pop is going to let Tim play more than 30 a night for an extended period of time. Kawhi was on Blake a handful of times last night but it is clear those minutes are going to come in short spurts.
Either way, it will be interesting how Pop will get over losing his most improved player.
..and then losing Manu? Double oof.. That one really hurt. There is no doubt that he makes any of our lineup exponentially better but it wasn't such an urgency for the team to get him back since our system proved it can keep us afloat while he's out. But it's obvious that he needs all the time he can get on the floor to be where he was prior to breaking his hand. Time will only tell if he can peak come April. Until then, this is TP's team and it just might be that way for the rest of the season depending on how much time it's going to take for Manu to make a full come back.
With all that said, beating this Clipper's team on their home floor, with a huge target on our back, for our tenth win in a row, must have done wonders for the chemistry and confidence for this already cohesive unit. What a win! ..and I love Pop (and Danny):
After Neal hit the corner pocket with 25 seconds left in OT to give us a three point lead, LAC took a predictable timeout. They come out with 4 guards and Blake. Rather than Timmy, Pop goes with Kawhi on Blake. Ball goes to CP guarded by Green on the inbounds, Blake immediately sets a high screen and makes the defense switch to create a mismatch, only for Kawhi to stick CP. Kawhi forces him into the paint where Green simultaneously slips in front of a Blake seal to deny the pass and forces CP into a tough shot with the weak side help. Possession, FTs.
It's amazing how well Pop understands his personnel and their tendencies. Not that it's anything new, he's been doing that since he's been in the league, but I am always pleasantly reminded that we have the best coach in the league by far.
GO SPURS GO.
I have a bad feeling that Manu may have to start thinking about retirement sooner than we thought. His body starting to break down often with injuries and he just can't play that much without getting injured. On the positive side Tony has been amazing and the young guys (Neal, Green) are showing that they'll be able to fill in Manu's place and we'll still be a great team after he's gone.
I figured out Manu's strategy. He's going to stay injured until playoffs to keep himself fresh, lol. Seriously, I don't think he cannot not play "balls out". Hope those two get better soon.
with manu out i think we are still fine, splitter ehh not so much. tim cant play 40 minutes a night and there are no free agents out there that can do what splitter does. tims linutes are going to be around 33-36 per game till splitter comes back.