San Antonio Spurs 107, Los Angeles Clippers 95
AT&T CENTER — Tim Duncan entered Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers clouded in uncertainty. Duncan exhibited flu-like symptoms earlier in the day and his appearance was in doubt.
“I really thought he wasnâ€™t going to come,” Manu Ginobili said. “This morning he was feeling sick and we thought he wasnâ€™t going to play, so it was very important for us to see him, knowing that he wasnâ€™t close to 100%.”
In the end, Duncan played just over 22 minutes of the Spurs’ 107-95 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. But for once, Duncan had little impact on the game. He finished with six points on 3-7 shooting and grabbed just six rebounds. He didn’t even commit a foul. The one and only area where he stood out was blocked shots, where he had three.
“We werenâ€™t expecting a huge game from him of course, but it was important for the team to see him on the court playing,â€ Ginobili said.
Despite the quiet night for Duncan, the Spurs exhibited their balance for a national audience. Richard Jefferson and Manu Ginobili each scored 22 points and Tony Parker had 21. George Hill was the other Spur in double figures with 10.
Duncan? Oh he was tied with Tiago Splitter for sixth on the team in scoring.
It’s early, but San Antonio is showing signs of being a top-notch offensive team. Duncan wasn’t scoring and he wasn’t drawing double-teams to open things up for teammates. Gary Neal, the gun-for-hire with 15 points on Monday at Charlotte, played just one minute at the end of the game.
And still, the Spurs broke the century mark yet again.
Granted, these Clippers, even when fully healthy, are far from a defensive juggernaut. But with the vast array of weapons — weapons that are currently firing — these Spurs are overcoming their early-season struggles on the defensive end.
San Antonio has seven players averaging at least seven points per game so far this season. The Spurs had the same number of players averaging at least seven points per game last season, but total those seven players only averaged 89.9 ppg. The top seven for the Spurs so far this season are averaging 94.7 ppg.
The strong start to the season offensively also comes as Tiago Splitter is slowly cracking the lineup. Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich has warned not to expect any 20-point games from Splitter this season — he’s not that type of player — but Splitter’s skill-set should be the WD-40 to the gears of the Spurs offense. He may not score a lot of points but his presence on the offensive end should aid his teammates when it comes to scoring.
And if the Spurs’ defense improves as the team gains consistency and Splitter’s minutes increase? Well, it’s to early to make that projection. But good things could happen.