Los Angeles Clippers: Tony Parker

Rapid Reaction: Spurs 116, Clippers 90

February, 21, 2013

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers spent the majority of their offseason putting together a team that would be better suited to beating the San Antonio Spurs if they ever met in the playoffs again.

After Los Angeles was swept by the Spurs in the playoffs last season, San Antonio was in the back of the Clippers' minds as they made move after move this summer. On Thursday, none of it seemed to matter as the Clippers were thoroughly outclassed and outmatched in a 116-90 drubbing that was easily L.A.’s most embarrassing loss of the season.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Backcourt disappearance

If the Clippers are going to have any success against the Spurs or have a chance of going far in the playoffs, they’re going to need their backcourt of Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups to shine. On Thursday, they were a no-show. Paul finished with four points on 1-of-4 shooting to go along with five turnovers, three assists and two rebounds. Billups wasn’t much better, as he finished with six points on 0-of-2 shooting, getting all his points from the free throw line. Neither player was able to get into any kind of a rhythm, while Paul looked rusty even after his 20-point, 15-assist MVP performance in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game. They were outplayed by Tony Parker, who had 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting with seven assists and two rebounds.

Cold night

The Clippers played poorly across the board, but their ineptitude hit its depths in the third quarter, as Los Angeles hit just five of 14 shots and didn’t hit a field goal until nearly midway through the quarter. The Clippers not only hit 35.7 percent of their shots in the quarter, but allowed the Spurs to score 34 points and hit 60 percent of their shots. Whatever halftime adjustments Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro made clearly didn’t work, or fell on deaf ears, as the Clippers quickly found themselves down by 34 points in the second half.

What now?

If this is a preview of things to come, the Clippers could be looking at another quick series against the Spurs if the two teams end up facing each other. The Clippers know Paul and Billups won’t combine for 10 points and five assists many times, and if they do, they fully expect to be on the losing end. The problem for the Clippers is this isn’t really an aberration because they were blown out by the Miami Heat recently when Paul and Billups had off nights as well. If the Clippers want to be considered one of the top teams in the NBA, they can’t get blown out and fall behind by 30 or more points in the second half to teams such as the Heat and the Spurs. The Clippers likely will recover from this loss and finish with the third seed in the West, but their confidence going into a playoff rematch against San Antonio can’t be high given how badly they looked against the Spurs on Thursday with a fully healthy roster.

The Spurs, the far better team

May, 21, 2012
Clippers guard Nick Young admitted it after Sunday's season-ending loss to the San Antonio Spurs: Before a week ago, he had never watched the Spurs play any elongated stretch of basketball.

"Nobody really watches the Spurs, man," Young said. "But sitting there on the court, getting a chance to really watch, I understand why Tim Duncan is one of the best power forwards to play this game and how good (Manu) Ginobili and (Tony) Parker really are.

"I got a chance to see it first-hand."

As did the rest of the Los Angeles Clippers. As a team, they all said pregame that the key to winning Sunday's Game 4 and extending the series at least one more game was to play with desperation. And they did that -- they really did. Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe starred in the fourth quarter and nearly led them to the win.

Then why didn't they pull it off? According to center DeAndre Jordan, in the second round the Clippers ran into an immovable force in the San Antonio Spurs -- or at least a force they couldn't figure out how to move.

"We had a couple chances, but they were a better team," Jordan said after Sunday's 102-99 Game 4 loss, speaking about both the game and the series. "They know how to win.

"I felt like we played a great game today and we played hard. We just came up short again."

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Video: Parker, Duncan talk Game 3 win

May, 19, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- Here are Tony Parker and Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs after their 96-86 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday that gave them a 3-0 lead over the Clips in the teams' second-round series.

Parker said he understood why people were looking at the series like a matchup between him and the Clippers' Chris Paul but said he didn't think it was warranted. He also said he had "no idea" how healthy Paul has been in the first three games.

Duncan commended Blake Griffin for his heady play in the post on Saturday and said he didn't do anything different on him in the second half, when Griffin's production fell off dramatically. He credited local product Kawhi Leonard for a lot of the Spurs' success in Game 3.

No Paul, no competition from Clippers

May, 17, 2012

The Los Angeles Clippers are going to get swept by the San Antonio Spurs if Chris Paul keeps playing the way he has so far this series.

That’s the truth of the matter.

The Clippers got improved play from Blake Griffin in Game 2 on Thursday night and have received continued productive play from a few of their role players against the Spurs, but it hasn’t been nearly enough.

San Antonio is too good, too complete a team. And the Clippers are too flawed, especially without a full-strength Paul in their arsenal.

The question that will determine how soon their season ends, then, is whether it’s possible Paul can be at full strength by Saturday afternoon’s Game 3 in Los Angeles. He’s still being bothered by the strained right hip flexor he suffered in Game 5 of the Clippers’ first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Spurs guard Tony Parker said in his postgame news conference Thursday that he and his teammates expect a better Paul in L.A.

“I’m sure he’s going to come back stronger in Game 3,” Parker said. “I’m sure he’s going to bounce back.”

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W2W4: Clippers vs. Spurs Game 2

May, 17, 2012

We asked our Facebook and Twitter audience what adjustments the Clippers need to make to beat the Spurs in Game 2. The responses were as creative as you would expect, so we Storified it. See who had the best advice.

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First Look: San Antonio Spurs

May, 13, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- It's been more than a month since the San Antonio Spurs have lost a game.

In that 32-day span, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan & Co. have gone 14-0, beating opponents by an average of more than 17 points per game. They've won as many games by more than 25 points -- three -- as they have by single digits.

Suffice it to say, San Antonio has been hot. And now the Los Angeles Clippers, having snuck by the Memphis Grizzlies in Sunday's Game 7 at the FedEx Forum, will play them in the Western Conference semifinals, beginning Tuesday in Texas.

It'll be a challenge, one that will go a long way toward shaping the public perception of Chris Paul's first season in Clipperland. If the Clippers somehow get by the Spurs, the year will be anointed a success, regardless of what happens in the next round(s).

But if they don't -- and, worse, if they get swept -- opinions will likely be somewhat split. Some will say coach Vinny Del Negro did enough to keep his job, considering the injuries and fast-paced schedule his team had to deal with over the past five months. Others will say he didn't, considering the two stars he had at his disposal and the bevy of other talent assembled for him during the 2011-12 season.

So, while we wait for that question to be answered, can the Clippers actually win this series?

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Paul named West player of the month

April, 27, 2012

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul has been named the Kia NBA Western Conference Player of the Month for April on Friday after leading the team to its first playoff berth in six years.

In the month of April, Paul averaged 20.7 points, 9.9 assists and 3 steals per game, sitting out one of the Clippers' 14 contests due to a strained left groin. He had seven 20-point performances and three 30-point outbursts, including 31 in a road win at Oklahoma City and 33 points at home against New Orleans this week.

The Clippers went 9-5 in April to finish as the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They open up their first-round series Sunday in Memphis.

Paul beat out Memphis’ Rudy Gay, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Utah’s Al Jefferson to win the award. It is his first player of the month honor since January 2010 and the sixth of his seven-year NBA career.

New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was the Eastern Conference award-winner.

Six minutes of great basketball

February, 18, 2012
Five minutes and 10 seconds into the second half of Saturday's game between the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro made his best decision of the day -- which isn't necessarily saying much, because he made a couple 0f questionable ones too.

The move: He pulled Chris Paul in favor of Eric Bledsoe, notable for three reasons.

For one, Paul rarely exits a game so soon after the start of either half. For another, Mo Williams was available from the bench but passed over by Del Negro. And, for three, it was in favor of Bledsoe, a guy who had played only 19 minutes this season before the move, mostly because of injury but also because of ineffectiveness since his return on Jan. 30.

But Paul was struggling to keep up with Tony Parker defensively, and Del Negro felt Bledsoe could do it better than his starting point guard could.

He was right. Over the next six minutes and nine seconds -- Bledsoe's only time on the court all game -- the Clippers made a 17-3 run, limiting Parker and the Spurs' offense and turning their own on through the fast break.

He didn't score, missing his only shot attempt, but his two assists and three rebounds were accurate measures of his effectiveness this day.

"I thought Eric Bledsoe came in and got us back into it," Del Negro said afterward, adding that Paul channeled Bledsoe's aggressiveness when he came back into the game, keeping the court open.

The Clips were down 65-50 when Bledsoe entered and were down only 68-67 when he exited. His +14 plus-minus was the best of any Clipper on Saturday and the second-best of any player on the court after Parker's +15.

"That's just how I play," Bledsoe said Saturday when asked about the influence his insertion into the lineup had. "I come up with the loose balls, hustle plays. I get more hustle plays than a lot of people."

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Blake Griffin
21.8 5.2 0.9 35.2
ReboundsD. Jordan 14.8
AssistsC. Paul 10.1
StealsC. Paul 1.9
BlocksD. Jordan 2.2