The Clippers beat the youthful Spurs in a wire-to-wire victory 124-99 in a game where nearly everyone on the Clips played well.
The Clippers had a solid first quarter, with their offense largely powered by James Harden. Harden had five points and five assists to no turnovers, and made some beautiful passes to Daniel Theis on the pick and roll when he checked in for Zu. The Clippers’ defense was by and large fine, and the Clips had a 33-27 edge after the first quarter.
The same pattern continued in the second quarter, with the Clippers’ defense not being great but the Spurs’ defense being so bad they were able to build their lead. Daniel Theis was a particular standout, hitting a beautiful floater off a 4v3 in the short pick and roll and then nailing a three on a pick and pop with PG. The Clippers led 53-39 and Russ was at the line shooting free throws, but he missed both and the Spurs went on a 7-0 run to get back into things. The starters came back and the ship was righted, with Harden continuing his brilliant start to the game. The result was a 66-55 lead at halftime.
The Clippers shifted the script a bit in the 3rd, with their defense tightening up but their offense looking a bit more sloppy. Kawhi Leonard had a bit of a takeover, scoring repeatedly and from all over the court against a poor Spurs’ defense. The lead kept growing, and three of the starters exited at the 4:37 mark up 86-66. At this point, the Clippers’ fell apart, missing a bunch of open shots and allowing the Spurs to get going in transition. A 9-0 Spurs run got the lead down to 11 with 2 minutes to go. Norm three restored order a bit, and the Clippers led by 14 going into the fourth.
Paul George went on a 7-0 run to start the period, giving the Clippers their largest lead at 21. The Spurs were able to battle back a bit, but the Clippers maintained a 20 point edge for most of the rest of the period through PG buckets with some contributions from Theis. Finally, at the 4:15 mark, both teams pulled the plug and garbage time ensued.
Time for Theis: I was impressed by Daniel Theis’ feel and defense in his first game with the Clippers. In this game he was flat-out phenomenal, going 8-10 from the field for 19 points in just 21 minutes, collecting seven rebounds, and dishing a couple assists. He has a nice touch from floater range, makes plays from the short roll or elbow, and is just a solid overall player who seems like a lock to provide steady backup center minutes until Mason Plumlee returns.
PG Closes: Another game, another great performance by Paul George, who has been fantastic this year. PG scored 28 points on 11-16 shooting, and 14 of those came in the 4th quarter to seal the deal on the (admittedly terrible) Spurs. His game is still more jump-shot happy than I’d like, but he’s making all of them right now, he’s keeping his turnovers low, and his defense looks great. If Paul George plays like this all season, he will be right back in the All-NBA conversation.
Harden Deals: James Harden was cold shooting the ball, going 4-12 from the field and 2-8 from three, including several misses on wide-open catch-and-shoot threes. But I loved the way he ran the offense today. He had 10 assists to 0 turnovers, and had some passes the likes of which we haven’t seen in a Clippers jersey since Chris Paul ran the show. Harden also pushed the pace when the situation called for it, and was not afraid to pitch the ball up early to George, Kawhi, or Norm Powell to get into transition. Eve though he missed the threes, I also liked that he took those catch and shoot shots – he will really need to take a lot of those playing opposite of Kawhi and George.