SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs have the second-best record in the NBA and see no reason why can't overtake the Golden State Warriors over the season's final 29 games.
San Antonio is 3 1/2 games behind the league-best Warriors and looks to post its seventh consecutive victory when it visits the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday as play resumes following the All-Star break.
The Spurs are 45-8 - the franchise's best-ever record at the break - and see it as crucial to end up with the No. 1 seed in the West because both they and Golden State have perfect home records.
"The fun is over," All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge told reporters. "We understand the task at hand."
The Clippers have had to sidestep distractions caused by the incident in which power forward Blake Griffin broke his right hand punching assistant equipment manager Matias Testi, and Griffin addressed the situation publicly for the first time on Tuesday.
"This is not something that I have ever had to deal with and not a position that I have ever been in, so it has been tough to know that I let my teammates down, let our organization down and let the fans down, let my family down, all of that," Griffin told reporters. "That has probably been the hardest part."
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ABOUT THE SPURS (45-8): Aldridge ended play before the break on a roll with six 20-point outings in an eight-game span. Aldridge averaged 24.1 points and shot 60.2 percent from the field during the stretch and is averaging 17 points after a slow start to the season. Aldridge has worked through the transition period upon leaving Portland to join the Spurs and is now fitting in much better with his teammates.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (35-18): Los Angeles has gone 18-5 with Griffin sidelined and rumors continue to persist that the club is shopping him prior to Thursday's trading deadline. Coach Doc Rivers has expressed displeasure that he has to continue to address the situation but the speculation isn't going to stop swirling until the deadline passes. "We receive phone calls about every single player, honestly, but it does frustrate me when you hear all that speculation and all that stuff," Rivers told reporters. "It’s completely untrue."
1. Aldridge had 26 points and 13 rebounds as the Spurs recorded a 115-107 home win over the Clippers on Dec. 18.
2. San Antonio All-Star SF Kawhi Leonard has recorded five consecutive 20-point outings and is averaging 24.2 points during the span.
3. Los Angeles C DeAndre Jordan has notched 10 straight double-digit outings on the boards and is averaging 16.9 rebounds during the stretch.