Rapid Reaction: Spurs 116, Clippers 92
January, 4, 2014
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
The first half was a dreary, scary view into what life could be like for the Los Angeles Clippers without Chris Paul.
The second half, at least momentarily, was a peak into what life could be like if the Clippers played above their heads and picked up the slack while their leader is sidelined.
One day after discovering that Paul could be sidelined three to five weeks with a separated right shoulder the Clippers got blown out by the San Antonio Spurs 116-92 at AT&T Center.
This was a game the Clippers would have likely lost even if Paul were in the lineup. Playing San Antonio on the second half of a road back-to-back with the Spurs coming off a surprising home loss to the New York Knicks was going to be tough even if Paul were playing.
Either way, there was no excuse for trailing by 37 points in the game and basically laying down against the Spurs in the first half. The Clippers stormed back in the second half and pulled to within 12 in the fourth quarter, but there’s obviously a big difference between coming back from 25 points and 37 points.
Life without Paul for the Clippers probably will have its highs and lows, and the Clippers are hoping Saturday’s loss in San Antonio, and certainly that forgettable first half, is as low as it gets.
How it happened: The game started? Seriously, this one was never really close, as the Spurs went up by 20 points in the first quarter and took a 70-35 lead into halftime. The Clippers were able to pull to within a dozen in the fourth quarter before the Spurs pushed back above 20 again. The Spurs’ lead never got below double figures after the early part of the first quarter.
What it means: It means the Clippers are going to have to learn in a hurry how to play without Chris Paul. This wasn’t all about Paul’s absence. The Clippers’ defense was nonexistent in the first half as they gave up 70 points and allowed San Antonio to shoot better than 60 percent from the field.
Hits: On a night when the Clippers needed many hits to make up for the absence of Paul, they didn’t get any. Jamal Crawford had 24 points and seven assists, Blake Griffin had 19 points and seven rebounds, but no one stepped up their game enough to make up for losing Paul.
Misses: Too many to enumerate but one night after DeAndre Jordan scored 25 points, the Clippers' starting center had just four points to go along with 10 rebounds. Jordan will never be an offensive weapon for the Clippers but while Paul is gone, they cannot get away with having him score less than 10 points and acting as if any offense they get from a starter is gravy.
Stat of the game: The Clippers got 10 combined points from Jordan and Jared Dudley. That has to change while Paul and J.J. Redick are out. The other starters have to pick up the slack and become more consistent scorers.
Up next: The Clippers fly back to Los Angeles to play the Orlando Magic at home on Monday night. The Clippers lost their previous meeting against the Magic in Orlando on Nov. 6. It was the first sign that L.A. might not roll over Eastern Conference teams as easily as it should. The Clippers are just 7-6 against East teams, while the three teams above them in the West are 32-5 against the East.