The LA Clippers washed away the bad taste of their loss in Utah on Friday by steamrolling the San Antonio Spurs, 123-83 at home. The Clippers needed a win like this to carry some momentum into the new week and get back on track.
Similarly to their opening night win against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Clippers came out and set the tone early. They put pressure on the Spurs early and just continued to build their lead throughout the game.
The talk of the night though was Spurs French sensation Victor Wembanyama and as it so happened, the Clippers were hosting French Heritage Night. Wembanyama received a splattering of cheers during his pregame introductions. The crowd kept waiting for him to make a highlight play but it never came.
Wembanyama, just like the rest of the Spurs, struggled against the Clippers defense. Postgame, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue made it a point to single out the defensive effort.
“I thought we did a really good job of just locking in, being physical. We know they have length, they’re big,” Lue said. “Just overall really good defense, locked in.”
Helping the Clippers get off to a good start on both ends of the floor was Paul George. George has started the season on a hot streak and that continued against the Spurs.
George had nine points on 50 percent shooting and five steals at the end of the first quarter. He would finish with 19 points on 8-17 shooting, four rebounds, five assists and five steals.
Lue credited his coaching staff for working with not just George, but the team as a whole in terms of instilling a defensive mindset.
“Just activity, what Dan Craig and Brenden O’Connor have done defensively is just making sure we’re more active, more steals, more deflections,” Lue said. “Being more active, bringing activity. . .we want to stay with that, we want to continue to generate points off turnovers and deflections and steals and continue to play that way.”
While the main focus was clearly on his team and the solid win, Lue couldn’t escape speaking on Wembanyama and his initial impressions of the highly-touted rookie.
“He’s a problem, offensive rebounds, he gets behind the defense, his ability to handle the basketball,” Lue said. “He causes some problems. He could be a pick and pop guy, he can be a four or five, you got guard him with a smaller guy. There’s a lot of things he can do on the floor that puts us in tough situations. . he’s only going to get better.”
-Robert Covington is proving why Clippers fans wanted him to play more last season. He’s been the ultimate glue guy on the team doing whatever’s asked of him and fitting in with the Clippers starters. Postgame, Lue singled him out in particular as providing defensive energy while taking only one shot and never complaining.