Looking back to Sunday in Houston, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul shared the floor together representing the Western Conference All-Stars.
On a national stage, with all All-Star teammates, Paul won the All-Star MVP award with 20 points and 15 assists in a game that presented very little defense. On Thursday, on national television, Parker was the one who dominated the night as the Spurs dismantled the Clippers 116-90, in a game that actually mattered with real defense.
Let’s just get their stat lines out of the way now to show the dominance of Parker.
Parker: 31 points, 7 assists, 12/16 shooting, 7/7 free throws, 0 turnovers, and 2 fouls in 28 minutes.
Paul: 4 points, 3 assists, 1/6 shooting, 3 turnovers, and 5 fouls in 27 minutes.
Here are five other points on the Spurs’ route of the Clippers as the Spurs earned their 44th victory of the season.
1. Best point guard in the NBA? Parker or Paul
At halftime during the game, TNT anchor and former NBA player Charles Barkley said on national television that Parker is the clear cut best point guard in the NBA right now. Barkley’s statement had some evidence behind it as Parker went into halftime with 17 points and five assists by the half. Paul meanwhile, struggled to get anything going for himself or his teammates in the half.
In the third quarter though, Parker really made his own campaign for best point guard in the NBA with his play. Whether it was faking Paul with hesitation moves in give-and-go plays for layups, drawing contact and getting to the foul line, or just driving straight into the teeth of the defense and scoring layups, Parker was unstoppable in the third where he scored 14 points. Paul just didn’t have an answer for Parker while Paul struggled to score or get his teammates involved on the other end. At one point, Parker ran from Paul and scored a wide open lay-up; Paul grabbed the ball and looked disgusted with himself. It was just one more game, but on this evening, Parker clearly showed he might be the best point guard in the NBA.
2. Parker was Batman, Green was Robin
With Kawhi Leonard sitting out of the game with a knee related injury, Danny Green started at small forward for the Spurs. Green was once again instrumental in the Spurs’ win with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, and making three 3-pointers on 50% shooting, but it was Green’s playmaking ability in the game where he collected seven assists to help get his teammates easy baskets. If Parker was Batman on Thursday, then Green was clearly playing the role of Robin.
3. Splitter’s physicality
Tiago Splitter finished the game with his usual 10 points, but his two blocks and sound defense on Blake Griffin were a significant in their own right. Throughout the game, Griffin tried to use his athleticism and speed to score on Splitter, but each time Splitter had an answer for the power forward. Griffin finished the game with 17 points, but it took him 17 shots to earn all of those points. Most telling play of the night was when Griffin was in the air and on his way to slam the ball down on Splitter, but Splitter responded by actually trying to block the shot and sending Griffin to the free throw line.
4. The Spurs’ machine-like offense
The Spurs’ offense resembled a soccer team on Thursday because of the way that they executed their plays. Possessions went by with crisp passing and a majority of the baskets were around the rim or out on the perimeter. The Spurs assisted on 30 of their 43 made baskets, shot 59% on the road from the field, made 8-of-17 three pointers, and scored over 30 points in two individual quarters. The blowout also allowed all of their players to play and each player on the active roster, including rookie Aron Baynes, scored in the game. The team did turn the ball over 18 times, but because of the large lead that was built, the margin was never really close after half.
5. The defense in the third quarter
The third quarter was the quarter where the game transitioned into a blow out not only because of Parker’s offense, but because of the team defense as a whole. The Spurs’ defense held the Clippers to making just 5-of-14 shots, six turnovers, and only scoring 21 points in the quarter. The Spurs’ defense also forced the Clippers to turn the ball over 20 turnovers on the night.
On to the Bay area
The Spurs will fly to Golden State on Friday to face the Warriors on a back-to-back night situation.
Where they stand
Here are a few stats showing the where the Spurs stand in certain categories in the NBA.
Season record: 44-12
Rodeo Road Trip: 6-1
Road Record: 22-10
Vs. teams above .500: 18-9
Wins by 10 or more points: 24-4
Vs. the Western Conference: 24-8
Good to see Baynes play. Seeing nice numbers relative to minutes in terms of points, rebounds and blocks (well, just "a block" per game is good); also consistent with fouls :o as long as they're not silly fouls that's ok too. Would be interesting for him to add on the assists category (so far mostly zero per game). I know his time has been limited but improving in assists will give him that added dimension and make the team more unpredictable when he's on the floor (or as unpredictable when he's not since the other bigs are good passers too). He is a banger!
Great response by Tiago on Blake's dunk attempt. Boris did the same ting earlier in the game. I picture this interchange before the game:
Pop: Tiago, Boris. If Blake goes up for a dunk, you make sure he thinks about it the next time. No easy dunks!
Boris: Got it, coach.
Pop: Tim. If Blake goes up for a dunk, you just let him have it. Get out of the way. No hard contact.
Best Spurs win I've seen since Parker's 42 pt game against OKC last year. Utter destruction of the Clippers. I think it's clear to everyone now that TP is running the show, and if we fulfill our drive for 5, it will be because of his dominance. What a great game! Go Spurs Go!!!