The Margin: Clippers 120, Spurs 108
Rob Mahoney of the TrueHoop Network’s Two Man Game has a unique style of game recap. He takes the margin of the final score and posts a note for every point. As I am not really a postgame grades kind of guy, I’m going to shamelessly steal his idea for the evening. Sorry to those of you who love El Conclusion, but I’m pulling ranking and doing it my way this evening because I am crotchety and old and you are on my lawn.
So, 12 notes for the 12 points by which the Spurs lost:
- Danny Green did an admirable job defending Chris Paul tonight, and I’m not just talking about when he picked Paul’s pocket late in the third. Paul has a masterful move on the pick and roll in which he stops and dribbles back into a trailing defender, either creating space or drawing enough contact to get the foul call. Green did a great job mirroring Paul’s movement, staying close enough to alter his shot but just far enough to avoid the foul.
- The Clippers scored 120 points, so I don’t want to create the misconception that the Spurs played good defense whatsoever. But, the other player who had a nice night on the defensive end of the floor was Tim Duncan. Of the Clippers 120 points, only 26 came in the paint and that was largely because of the excellent rim protection Duncan provided.
- I was surprised when I looked at the box score and saw the Clippers only out-rebounded the Spurs by 6 and had only one fewer turnover. I was even more surprised when I saw the Spurs and Clippers had the same number of offensive rebounds. During the game it felt like the Spurs were getting handled on the boards, giving away cheap balls that they should have more easily corralled. And there were a number of turnovers — in particular 3 of Manu’s — that were baldly self-inflicted.
- The Clippers had a terrific night from the field, plain and simple. Initially the Spurs were forcing them into contested 2s and they were making them anyways. Somewhere along the way those contested 2s turned into wide-open 3s and just in case you’re uncertain that’s a bad thing. (That’s some crack shot analysis from a wily veteran reporter if I’ve ever heard it).
- Manu’s 4-6 shooting from beyond the arc is even more impressive when you think back upon the critical moments in which they came. Even though the Spurs lost, Manu was in hero mode tonight.
- My favorite stretch of the game was somewhere in the mid-fourth, when Green, Leonard, and Splitter were on the floor. By no means was it the cleanest basketball the Spurs played, but everyone on the floor was playing with tremendous intensity. In particular Leonard and Green were flying around the floor, fighting for every loose ball. It was great to watch while it lasted.
- The Spurs ball movement tonight was terrific. They took 30 3-pointers, many of which were wide open. 40% of them dropped through the net, which is not a bad percentage, but it wasn’t enough to counterbalance an inspired shooting night by Los Angeles.
- After the game, I asked Gary Neal if he approached the game any differently because Parker was out. Neal didn’t think so, saying “I was aggressive as I always am. I got to the line 10 times. The point guard isn’t going to change my mentality.” I like that answer, because I like the fact that Neal believes he should always be aggressive, no matter who he’s playing alongside.
- After the game, Tim Varner asked Pop about transition defense and Popovich shot him down mercilessly. I wish you had been there. Rest assured, I’ll give Varner plenty of crap on your behalf.
- Neal, Bonner and Jefferson were collectively 2-13 from beyond the arc, which is less than stellar. Bonner’s 5 misses (he was 1-6) were especially hard to swallow, given how open he was on all 5 and the critical moments at which they came.
- The music at the AT&T center has gotten better. A little Common’s “Raw.” Tyga’s “Rap City.” Some solid hip hop samples I didn’t expect to hear. (Be honest, the music at the AT&T has always been a little on the lame side.)
- The TrueHoop Network was rolling deep this evening: Kevin Arnovitz, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Tim Varner, Jesse Blanchard and myself were all in the building. So keep your eyes peeled: There should be more coverage of tonight’s game coming your way. Then again, if you just want to forget about this loss, I won’t blame you.