Aldridge, Green help Spurs trim Clippers
SAN ANTONIO - The NBA is a make-or-miss league, but when both teams are shooting well, games come down to stops and the desire to make plays that build runs or end them.
That was the scenario Tuesday night as LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points and Danny Green added a season-high 24 as the San Antonio Spurs used an explosive third-quarter run to waltz past the reeling Los Angeles Clippers 120-107 at the AT&T Center.
The score was tied at 61 after two DeAndre Jordan free throws with 8:08 to play in the third quarter. The Spurs then kicked into overdrive, running away to a 92-76 lead by the end of the period.
Both teams shot well from the floor, with the Spurs hitting 53.6 percent and the Clippers 51.2 percent.
“Making shots has been a problem for us in some games,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We’ve still got a long way to go defensively, but we made shots tonight. We had 33 assists, which is an unselfish game, really good. A lot of people participated, so making shots does make things simpler.”
San Antonio scored a season-high 40 points in the third quarter, 26 of which came in the final six minutes.
The Spurs also put together a big 34-point third quarter on Sunday in a win over the Phoenix Suns. San Antonio (7-4) has won three straight games.
“The third quarter just did us in,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “In the games we’ve won, we’ve played well in the third quarter so that was what I was expecting tonight.
“Our offense and defense were both good in the first half and then our defense was just awful in the third quarter. Then we stopped moving the ball on offense. It was a winnable game, but you can’t give them gifts.”
Rudy Gay added a season-high-tying 22 points for San Antonio. Pau Gasol hit for 19 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
“We need this kind and balance and contribution from a bunch of players, especially with some of our guys out right now,” Green said. “It still starts with defense for us, regardless of how well we play on offense. We adjusted, make some better plays and communicated better there in the third quarter.”
Austin Rivers scored a season-high 24 points to lead the Clippers, who have lost five of their past six games after starting the season with four wins.
Lou Williams added 17 points off the bench, Blake Griffin scored 15 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, and Wesley Johnson and Jordan scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Clippers (5-5).
The Clippers outshot the Spurs 55 percent to 48.8 percent in the first half and led 55-52 at halftime behind 14 points from Rivers, 12 from Johnson and 10 from Griffin.
Green topped San Antonio with 13 first-half points and Gay added 11. The first two quarters featured eight ties and nine lead changes, with the Spurs owning as much as a seven-point advantage and the halftime score representing the Clippers’ biggest lead.
“We just have to give ourselves the opportunities to win games,” Williams said. “When lose two or three games in a row, there is a tendency to drop your head when to lose the lead like we did tonight. We started second-guessing everything and we have to stop doing that.”
NOTES: With the Spurs’ Sunday win over Phoenix, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich passed Phil Jackson for sixth in NBA career victories. After the Tuesday win, Popovich has 1,157 career victories. George Karl is next on the list with 1,175 coaching victories. ... The Clippers are 5-6 in their last 11 road matchups with the Spurs dating to Jan. 31, 2015. L.A. went 6-44 in its previous 50 games in San Antonio from 1987 to 2011. ... F LaMarcus Aldridge is one of just four San Antonio players in the past 20 years to score 220-plus points in the first 10 games of a season (David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard). ... DeAndre Jordan is the first player in Clippers franchise history to play 10 seasons with the team. Jordan (676) ranks second in franchise history in games played, behind Randy Smith (715).