The Los Angeles Clippers will carry a two-game winning streak into play against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night in the first of two games in two nights between the teams in the Alamo City.
Wednesday’s matchup is the second of a franchise-high nine-game homestand for the Spurs. San Antonio was coming off a five-game trip, and the Spurs looked tired in a 100-97 loss to Charlotte in which they missed three key shots in the final two minutes.
“Sometimes that’s the formula in the NBA — that first game coming back is a tough one,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the loss. “I was hoping we were over that, but the first half was a killer.”
DeMar DeRozan ended up with 28 points for San Antonio while Derrick White scored 21, and Patty Mills and Rudy Gay hit for 10 apiece. Jakob Poeltl paced the Spurs in rebounds with 11.
Mills said the Spurs are forging an identity as a team that thrives on pressuring teams defensively, both full court or in the half court.
“Once we can really string a full 48 minutes together, I think we are going to be really, really tough,” Mills said. “We are on the doorstep of us playing the right way and the way we want.”
San Antonio has lost two straight after winning three in a row on its recent trip.
Things won’t get easier for the Spurs in their two-game set with the Clippers. Los Angeles has won three of its past four, including a 119-110 home victory over Atlanta on Monday in which it roared back from a 22-point, third-quarter deficit to snap the Hawks’ eight-game winning streak.
Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points in the win while Terance Mann added 21. Luke Kennard was 8-of-8 and scored all of his 20 points in the second half for the Clippers.
Kennard became the first player in team history to record at least 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists in less than 20 minutes of play. He scored 13 points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer from half court that beat the buzzer.
“When that deep shot went in from half court, I said, ‘Shoot, you know what? Let’s just keep this momentum going,'” Kennard said. “A 20-point (deficit) seems like a lot, but we just chipped away.”
Los Angeles also got 19 points from Marcus Morris and 12 from Ivica Zubac, but Paul George had just eight points, a season low. The team’s reserves were the difference on Monday.
“Just frustrated early on just by the way we been playing,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said of his move to turn the game over to his bench. “These guys have been working out every single day. They been competing in practice and playing five-on-five afterward. I just wanted to put a group in to try to change it up, play hard and compete, and those guys did a hell of a job.”
San Antonio beat the Clippers 116-113 in Los Angeles on Jan. 5 in the two teams’ first meeting this season.
–Field Level Media