SAN ANTONIO – The Los Angeles Clippers were not about to make any excuses following their 109-91 loss to the San Antonio Spurs but with five players out due to injury, one can only assume they were at least a bit envious after seeing star forward Kawhi Leonard return from his own injury to make his home debut on Monday night.
With star leading scorers Blake Griffin and Lou Williams among those out with an injury, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers thought his team played well given the circumstances but baskets were just not going in for them and the Spurs exploited their mistakes.
“I liked how we played in the first half, we just couldn’t convert. Second half, we cut it to one (sic), we got it down and then they made a run,” Rivers said. “I just thought at the end of the day, we just didn’t have enough in the tank. You could literally see us running out of gas, but again, I liked our play.”
For DeAndre Jordan, who finished with a double-double off 13 points and 14 rebounds, the Clippers can at the very least learn a thing or two from a team like the Spurs when it comes to overcoming adversity.
“It’s just the nature of the beast, it’s the NBA. Guys get hurt a lot … but great teams always find a way to win with the guys that they have out there. Like Kawhi, I don’t know what happened but obviously he wasn’t there in the second half, but they (Spurs) still found a way to win (tonight),” Jordan said. “Danny Green didn’t play tonight and they still found a way to win and that’s what good teams do.”
Despite being down as much as 15 points at one point and heading into halftime down 57-49, the Clippers clawed back early in the 3rd quarter after going on a 13-4 run to cut the lead by only two points, 67-65.
However, the Spurs bench was just too much for the injury-plagued Clippers as they answered back by scoring 18 of their 28 points in the final six minutes, taking an 85-70 lead to end the 3rd quarter.
15-point lead with 12 minutes to go. pic.twitter.com/YZLiUEbMvN— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 19, 2017
The Spurs left their foot on the gas pedal and never looked back the rest of the game.
“We kept them at bay for the most part. They had 90 points with like three or four minutes left. So, I don’t know if defense was really the problem,” Clippers guard Austin Rivers said. “We just didn’t make shots tonight. So, sometimes it just as simple as that.”
Austin also said it’s been a “terrible season so far for just our health” but going against somewhat of a full Spurs squad and holding them to just 109 points, it’s one positive that will allow them to keep their heads up.
He ended the night with 12 points off 26 percent shooting and 37 percent from beyond the arc.
Even though Monday night's defeat was the second time the Clippers lost to the Spurs this season, Jordan and head coach Rivers both shared a similar theme about the silver and black.
“They execute and they are well-prepared. Our advantage is getting stops at random, running and getting easy baskets in transition and you can’t do that when you’re taking the ball out every time,” Jordan said. “We were able to do that once when we got stops and it showed when we cut it to two (points). But they’re (Spurs) a great team and they responded.”
ICYMI: #Clippers had nothing but positive things to say about #Spurs despite losing 109-91 last night. 'They have a lot of talent, number 1. Number 2, they are extremely well-coached, & they play together, they play like a team.' MORE➡️https://t.co/YLGolfLnqH #KSATnews pic.twitter.com/YyQ9WKqTu4— Adrian Garcia (@adrianrolgarcia) December 19, 2017
“They have a lot of talent, number one. Number two, they are extremely well-coached, and they play together, they play like a team. That’s what makes them so good,” Rivers said.
The Spurs (21-10) next travel to Portland to face the red-hot Trailblazers (16-14) in the Moda Center on Wednesday at 9 p.m. CT.