Aldridge, Parker help Spurs wear down Clippers
SAN ANTONIO — There are plenty of games in an NBA season like the one San Antonio played, and won, against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, but ugly wins in runaway fashion have aspects on which to improve.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored a workmanlike 19 points and Tony Parker added 16 as San Antonio rolled to a 109-91 victory over the injury-depleted Clippers at the AT&T Center but this one could have been much, much easier for the Spurs.
“We are going through the same thing as the Clippers as far as injuries but everyone can play in the NBA and all the games count the same,” Parker said. “We will just keep playing and working to get everyone back. It’s always better to win game, especially with what we’ve been going through. We are deep and a lot of guys can play on this team; there’s still plenty for us to work on.”
San Antonio led by as many as 15 points in the first half before the Clippers finished the half with a 9-3 run to pull back to within 57-49 at intermission. Los Angeles then cut the Spurs’ lead to 67-65 on a 3-pointer by Jamil Wilson with 5:33 to play in the third quarter.
But the Spurs responded by scoring 18 of the final 23 points in the period and taking an 85-70 advantage to the fourth quarter. The Clippers, with a pair players called up from the G-League logging meaningful minutes because of the team’s myriad injuries, never seriously challenged throughout the final quarter, and both teams emptied their benches over the final six minutes.
Manu Ginobili added 13 points, Rudy Gay hit for 12 and Patty Mills scored 11 for San Antonio while Pau Gasol took 11 rebounds to lead the Spurs (21-10).
San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard, who missed the first 27 games of the season with a quad injury, played his first home game of the year and scored seven points in almost 16 minutes, all in the first half.
Leonard is on a minutes restriction as he plays his way back into shape and into the Spurs’ rotation.
“It’s hard for a player like Kawhi to be out there for 15 minutes,” Gasol said. “It’s a process. We are happy that we have him the time we have do. Obviously, he tries to be aggressive and test his legs out but it’s tough for him to be himself when he’s used to playing 35 minutes and scoring 25 points every game.”
Jamil Wilson and DeAndre Jordan scored 13 points each to lead the Clippers while Austin River hit for 12, Montrezl Harrell added 11 points, and Willie Reed scored 10. Jordan took 14 rebounds to record his fifth straight double-double.
The loss was the Clippers’ third in a row after winning three straight games. Los Angeles played without forward Blake Griffin (left knee), guard Patrick Beverley (right knee), guard Danilo Gallinari (left knee), and guard Lou Williams (right foot sprain).
“We got it down and then San Antonio made its run,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. “At the end of the day, we just didn’t have enough in the tank. You could literally see us running out of gas. We missed a lot of shots at the rim with our bogs, but that happens — the Spurs make you do that.”
Aldridge led the Spurs with 11 points in the first half while Parker added 10 points in 4 of 5 shooting over the first two quarters. The Spurs outshot Los Angeles 51.2 percent-48.8 percent in the first half.
Jordan paced Los Angeles with nine points and nine rebounds as all 10 players who saw the court for the Clippers scored at least two points.
“They made shots, we didn’t, that’s pretty much it,” Jordan said. “They were able to convert and execute in getting stops and we weren’t able to. Our advantage is getting stops at random, running, and getting easy baskets in transition. You can’t do that if you are taking the ball out every time.”
NOTES: The Spurs played without G Danny Green (tightness, left groin) and G Kyle Anderson (left knee). ... Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (1,171) and Clippers coach Doc Rivers (815) rank first and second, respectively, in regular-season wins among all active coaches. Popovich (166) and Rivers (82) also lead all active coaches in postseason victories. ... Clippers C DeAndre Jordan recorded his NBA-best fifth game this season with 20-plus rebounds in their loss to Miami on Dec. 16. ... The Spurs sealed their 20th victory of the season against Dallas on Dec. 16. The win marked the 16th season San Antonio has had 20-plus wins in their first 30 games in the Gregg Popovich era. No other team in the NBA has more than eight in that time. ... When he took the opening tip against the Lakers on Oct. 19, Jordan became the first player in Clippers franchise history to play 10 seasons with the team.