Rested but ailing Spurs beat the Clippers because Patty Mills

by

The San Antonio Spurs went in to Los Angeles and started the west coast swing of the Rodeo Road Trip with a win, their best win of the season, beating the Clippers 113-103.

It was back and forth for much of the first three quarters. The Spurs would make a run and then the Clippers, usually Blake Griffin, would respond in kind. Then Patty Mills happened. He scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Spurs squashed any attempt at a late Clippers run. Oh, and we should mention Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter. Manu Ginobili was back, but it really took him three quarters to get to any semblance of pre-injury Manu. It feels like most short-handed Spurs wins are a total team effort, but this one was all about Tim Duncan early and Patty Mills late.

It was easy to celebrate another brilliant Mills performance, but Duncan took it upon himself to stay aggressive with Parker out. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers seemed content defending Duncan with DeAndre Jordan one-on-one for the most part. It wasn’t a terrible idea. There were times Duncan struggled finishing over Jordan, but Duncan’s savviness won him just as many battles. Another wrinkle Duncan threw in this game was passing. When he was in the high post, he was mostly looking to find wings like Marco Belinelli and Danny Green cutting back door.

The fourth quarter rolled around and that’s when Mills, who was already having a fine night, took over. He scored the Spurs first nine points as their lead doubled to 12 in just over three minutes. The Clippers got within seven a few times, but the closing unit of Mills, Ginobili, Danny Green, Boris Diaw and Duncan had an answer anytime the Clippers looked poised to make a run. The Spurs will now head to Portland to take on the Trailblazers Wednesday night. It’s been a house of horror for the Spurs, but Portland will be without LaMarcus Aldridge so this is a good chance to pick up a big mental victory.

Other notes:

-Danny Green was great, especially in the first half. He finished with 14 points and hit 3-8 from 3-point range. Mostly, he looked like last season’s Danny Green, so that’s fun.

-Blake Griffin looks so much better even than earlier this season. There’s just so much confidence. And he’s now the most exciting guy to watch one man fast break that’s not named LeBron James. Several words should be written by our Clipper Blog friends about his performance.

-While it was a concern before the season, the Spurs should have no worries about the back up point guard spot. Between Mills and Cory Joseph, there isn’t any situation the Spurs aren’t equipped to handle.

-Before the game, Coach Pop said Tony Parker was out for the foreseeable future to get healthy. Good call. Tony Parker at 70% doesn’t do anyone any good. Guessing this means he is out a week or two to deal with his various bumps and bruises.

-Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter both went through pre-game workouts to determine their availability. Obviously they didn’t play, but it means their return is close, possibly even for the Portland match up. Stay tuned.

Stats provided by ESPN