The Clippers came from behind in the 4th quarter to beat the Spurs 113-106 with great games from Paul George and Ivica Zubac.
The Clips started off a bit flat-footed, falling behind quickly to the younger Spurs 7-2. However, on a dime, everything shifted. Ivica Zubac locked down the paint, Reggie Jackson and Paul George each made three shots in a row, and the Clippers were able to both bring in defensive boards and not turn the ball over. When the dust settled, the Clips were up 25-8, having gone on a 23-1 run. The Clippers cooled as the bench came in, and the Spurs, powered by Devin Vassell, went on a 10-3 run of their own to narrow the deficit to 10 after one.
The Spurs immediately started to push once more on the Clippers’ small-ball unit, which looked discombobulated on both ends. Ty Lue responded by putting in Ivica Zubac for Terance Mann, which helped out defensively a ton. Soon, the lead was pushed back from three to 10, and the Clippers appeared in control once more. The seesaw moved again, however, as Devin Vassell got wherever he wanted on the court, consistently breaking down the defense to find open shooters and scoring 17 of his own without missing a shot. The Clippers’ offense was whatever, the defense was bad, and the Spurs led at halftime 58-54.
The third quarter was long and slow and mostly fairly boring. The Spurs continued to more or less outplay the Clippers with better ball movement and shot selection, but the Clips hung around due to the brilliance of Paul George, who scored 15 points in the quarter. The Clippers did go small, but PG played the entire time, and Amir Coffey played instead of Terance Mann, with the Clippers going extra small with both Reggie and Wall out there to close the quarter alongside Nic Batum. Ultimately, the quarter ended in a draw, and the Clippers trailed by four entering the final frame.
Zu checked in for PG to start the period, and after a couple minutes of back and forth, Marcus came in for Amir. Devin Vassell continued to prove unguardable, though John Wall had a gorgeous dish to Zu and then a fastbreak layup to get the deficit to 3. At that point, PG came back for Nico, and the Wall-Reggie-PG-Morris-Zu lineup went to work. The Clippers hounded the Spurs on offense, consistently forcing tough shots and turnovers. On offense, they went to PG-Wall small-small pick and rolls over and over, as the Spurs proved unable to stop the action. Sometimes PG was able to shake free, sometimes he found Wall to playmake out of the short roll, and sometimes PG dished to shooters for open threes. The Clippers got the lead, then grew it, eventually reaching 11 points. Nic Batum came in for Zu to close, and despite some bad offense, the Clippers held on for a fairly comfortable 113-104 win.
Luke Injured: Luke Kennard left the game after his first stint and never returned, as the Clippers ruled him out with chest tightness. The injury hopefully isn’t severe, though the Clippers got on just fine in this one without Luke. Still, he’s been a key player to start the season, and his shooting would be missed if he were to sit any further games.
Terance Benched: Terance Mann came off the bench, so benched might not be the right word, but he played only three minutes in this one. He shot 0-3, all from wide open 3s, had two turnovers, and two fouls, and was completely indecisive on offense. He’s been good defensively and on the glass to start the year, but the Clips need him to hit shots and make quick decisions and he hasn’t so far.
Zubacca: Ivica Zubac has been the Clippers’ most consistent player to start the year, and was dominant in this one, scoring 17 points on 8-10 shooting, collecting 15 rebounds, and swatting 4 shots in 36 minutes. Ty Lue is playing him more minutes, and he’s earned every bit of them. The defense is excellent, the rebounding is great, and the offense is just what the Clippers need.
PG Greatness: Paul George was terrific for the third game in a row, and it’s no surprise the Clippers won all three contests. He had 35 points tonight on 12-17 shooting, played fantastic defense, made the right play almost every time, and got to the line. He had 5 turnovers, but considering his efficiency, it’s just a small blight on a great game. This is the Paul George the Clippers need to carry them while Kawhi is out.