Clippers fail first part of West test

first_imgPaul, still not 100 percent after coming back from a shoulder separation, refused to make excuses.“It felt like I didn’t make anything but I didn’t know it was that bad,” he said, looking at the stat sheet. “I just couldn’t make a shot.”Marco Belinelli added 20 points and Tim Duncan had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs (39-15), who won despite 18 turnovers.With Manu Ginobili, Duncan and Parker, the Spurs have not only won titles, but have been a threat to win for more than a decade.“It’s no secret,” Paul said. “They just change to other guys around them. They’ve got a foundation with Timmy, Manu and TP so you just bring in other guys that fall in line.”Paul became a little sarcastic when asked if the Clippers are making strides with their core of players.“I don’t know,” he said. “Me, Blake and (DeAndre Jordan) are like 2 1/ 2 years and they’ve got like 17? You tell me. Yeah, we’re kind of close.“We’re working on it but obviously there’s a little bit of a difference there.”With a two-game trip to Memphis and Oklahoma City looming this weekend, then a game against Houston, the Clippers could still a move up in the standings in a week’s time.Griffin, returning from his 38-point performance in the All-Star game, scored 15 points in the first half for the Clippers and surpassed the career 6,000-point mark. He became the eighth active player to reach that milestone before the end of his fourth season.The Clippers once again had to go without J.J. Redick, whose sore hip actually turned out to be a bulging disc in his lower back. Redick, averaging 15.7 points per game, is out indefinitely. It was a golden opportunity for the Clippers, who came out of the All-Star break with a key stretch of games against Western Conference playoff contenders.It began at Staples Center on Tuesday, with the San Antonio Spurs in town and the Clippers trailing them in the Western Conference standings by only a game in the loss column.It was a systematic shutdown. Even without three starters, including guard Tony Parker, the Spurs and their championship pedigree ground through the Clippers for a 113-103 victory.“I never really set the pace. Those guys almost beat us at what we wanted to do to them,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said. “We wanted to play fast, they sort of pushed it at us, picked us up full court and Patty Mills was unbelievable and we never could really slow him down.” Imagine playing a Spurs team, one that also went without center Tiago Splitter and forward Kawhi Leonard, and having to explain how Mills came off the bench to score 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, including the first 11 of the period.“We were slow, we didn’t play very well, so not a lot of excuses,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “They were more ready for the game than we were. They played with more energy stayed focused with all the stuff, whatever was going on on the floor.“We played a very flat basketball game. I don’t think we came out to do that but that’s the way the game turned out. (Mills) killed us. I don’t know if Parker could have been much better, when you look at it.”Blake Griffin didn’t find a lot of room to work against San Antonio but still had 35 points and 12 rebounds. Jamal Crawford added 25 points, but Paul made only 1 of 10 shots and finished with 11 points and nine assists.“I thought Chris was hurting tonight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I don’t know that for a fact, but we didn’t get the whole Chris Paul tonight. That helped us — a lot.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Read More →