Griffin, Clippers power past Spurs
LOS ANGELES -- The wakeup call arrived a bit late for the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, and when it finally came, a groggy, road-weary club still needed a cup of coffee or two to finally rouse itself against the San Antonio Spurs.
When the Clippers eventually came to life, they wiped out a big deficit and emerged with a 115-92 victory at sold-out Staples Center.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin scored a game-high 27 points to go along with nine rebounds. He keyed a second-quarter run that sent the Spurs reeling and changed the complexion of the evening. A 19-0 streak pulled the Clippers (17-9) out of a 10-point hole and gave them a commanding advantage.
“When Blake gets it going like that, I love when he demands the ball and commands the ball,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul said. “He’s a handful. He’s a guy that, right now, you have to double him in order to stop him. We’re going to keep playing through him like that every game until he tells us otherwise.”
Griffin hit eight of 14 field-goal attempts and showed off his improving versatility with points off a variety of shots. He also sank 11 of 15 free throws.
“I thought he mixed it up really well,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He was confident, tried to shoot a jumper, he’d drive it or go post. He varied his game more than usual.”
The win was the biggest ever for the Clippers over the Spurs.
Paul added 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Los Angeles, which improved to 9-2 at home.
Forward Tim Duncan had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who could not recover from the Clippers’ second-quarter surge and 22 turnovers -- not to mention the loss of point guard Tony Parker late in the third quarter due to a right shin bruise.
There was no update on Parker after the game, but he was limping noticeably when leaving the arena.
San Antonio (19-5) fell to 10-3 on the road.
“We got a little sloppy, turned the ball over a lot,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “We were sloppy, slow, and they punished us.”
The Clippers, who were playing at home for the first time after a seven-game road trip, sank 11 3-pointers, four coming from guard Jared Dudley, who had 14 points. Guard Jamal Crawford added three 3-pointers and finished with 17 points.
“It’s a good win for us, but we’ll look at the film and then get past it,” Paul said. “This wasn’t the championship or anything like that. Another good win for us coming off the road trip.”
Ginobili had 16 points off the bench for the Spurs. He was forced into the point guard position in relief Parker, who had eight points and six assists in 26 minutes before limping off the court with 5:09 remaining in the third quarter.
The Spurs never quite adjusted to his absence.
“We are used to playing with him, he has the ball in his hands for a long time,” Ginobili said. “Especially when it counts most, we are used to having him out there. (When) that happened, we couldn’t adjust before the game, so it was a little bit harder, especially against a good, aggressive team.”
The turnovers didn’t help.
“Sometimes that happens, and against other teams you can mask it,” Ginobili said. “But against them, when they’re having a good game and shooting well, it’s very hard.”
Forward Kawhi Leonard had 12 points for the Spurs, who drew within 59-58 early in the third quarter. San Antonio was in striking distance in the fourth quarter until the Clippers took over with a 14-4 run to grab a 106-86 lead with 2:15 left in the game.
The Spurs led 31-21 early in the second quarter before the Clippers’ 19-0 run.
Duncan finally snapped the streak by sinking two free throws with 5:34 left in the half. San Antonio guard Marco Belinelli two added 3-pointers, slicing the Clippers’ lead to 42-39.
Griffin and Paul finished the half with 19 and 14 points, respectively, as Los Angeles took a 55-49 lead into the break.
Duncan had 13 first-half points.
NOTES: The Clippers were back home for the first time after a 13-day odyssey. The trip didn’t go nearly as well as planned, but they finished 4-3 before returning to potentially good news. Injured G J.J. Redick is expected to get the cast removed from his broken hand within the next two weeks and is now hopeful of a Jan. 15 return. That would be two weeks sooner than expected after Redick broke the hand Nov. 29. ... C Tiago Splitter went through a full-speed workout during the Spurs’ morning shoot-around and was cleared to play against the Clippers. Splitter was sidelined the previous four games due to left calf tightness.