Clippers turn back Spurs, boost lead in West
DeAndre Jordan-led Clippers hang on to beat Spurs, increase West lead
Clippers Hold Off Spurs
LOS ANGELES — DeAndre Jordan gets tired of teams playing Hack-a-DJ. Tim Duncan doesn’t like it, either, although he knows it’s a useful strategy against a mediocre free throw shooter such as Jordan.
It just backfired on the Spurs.
Jordan had 26 points and 18 rebounds, Jamal Crawford added 26 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers won 119-115 on Thursday night, increasing their lead over the Spurs by 1½ games in the West.
“I’m big; I have feelings, too,” Jordan said jokingly before turning serious. “I just hate that we can’t just run and play.”
Jordan was 10-of-28 from the line, getting in plenty of practice to go with his work outside of games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became the first player to have 25 free throw attempts in consecutive games since Wilt Chamberlain during the 1961-62 season.
Jordan and Duncan even chatted about the Spurs’ hacking strategy.
“Unless it gets outlawed, it’s part of basketball,” said Duncan, who scored 30 points and passed Alex English to move into 16th on the league’s all-time scoring list. “He’s going to shoot 50 (percent) or below. When he starts shooting better, people will stop doing it.
“It worked for us and gave us an opportunity. Unfortunately, within those times, we couldn’t make enough shots and sustain our offense enough to get a lead and pull away.”
Chris Paul had 22 points and 16 assists, and the Clippers outscored the Spurs 56-46 in the paint despite the absence of Blake Griffin, who is recovering from right elbow surgery. They improved to 3-1 without their All-Star forward.
“Everybody has had to step up,” Paul said. “Blake is a guy that no one person can replace.”
Duncan also had 11 rebounds, and Tony Parker had 21 points and 13 assists for the Spurs, who had their two-game winning streak end in their first game since the All-Star break. Kawhi Leonard, who went in averaging 15.4 points per game, went 1-for-11 from the floor and missed all six of his 3-point attempts.
Crawford and Paul came up with huge baskets in the final 32 seconds, with the Clippers clinging to one-point leads both times. Crawford took a pass from Paul and made a 3-pointer from the right corner.
“That’s making the right play,” Paul said. “I got the utmost confidence in my teammates, especially Mal. Jamal is made for those shots.”
Marco Belinelli answered with a 3 that drew the Spurs to 115-114.
Paul hit a 16-footer with 8 seconds to go that kept the Clippers ahead by three. J.J. Redick made a pair of free throws to close out the win. Los Angeles was 27-of-52 from the line, with its attempts a season high.
“It seemed like we had the game,” Parker said, “but we made some bad plays and big mistakes that hurt us in the fourth quarter.”
Paul helped engineer a Clippers rally late in the third quarter. His 3-pointer triggered a run of four straight 3s, with two by Crawford and one from Redick, before Glen Davis’ driving layup tied the game at 76. Davis got fouled and made the free throw for the Clippers’ first lead of the second half, 77-76.
From there, neither team led by more than four points the rest of the quarter, with Jordan’s layup giving the Clippers a 90-88 lead going into the fourth.
Los Angeles opened the fourth on a 10-5 run that extended its lead to 100-93. Jordan made 4 of 6 free throws to keep the Clippers narrowly ahead.
Duncan scored six points in a row, bringing the Spurs within two. They got within one twice in the final 1:32, but the defending NBA champions could never take the lead in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers sure gave the Spurs a chance. Jordan was 5-of-14 on free throws in the final period, with the Spurs hacking him away from plays knowing the big man is vulnerable at the line.
There were 15 lead changes in the first half, including 10 in the opening quarter, before the Spurs moved to a nine-point lead in the third.
Spurs: They didn’t go to the line for the first time until Parker made two free throws with 1:22 left in the second quarter.
Clippers: Jordan was 4-of-14 from the free throw line in the second. … The Clippers went 3-3 in a six-game span against opponents with a record of .500 or better. … Reserve G Austin Rivers sat out with a sore left ankle. Coach Doc Rivers said the team might have to sign another guard because it could be a couple of weeks before his son recovers.
Crawford came up with a big game on the same day the trade deadline passed without the Clippers making any moves. His name had been bandied about.
“I’ve always prided myself on being professional no matter what’s going on,” Crawford said. “You’re still human. You have emotions. You try to set it aside. It bothers my family more.”
Duncan is still waiting for the Spurs to play consistently throughout games, the method they used so well last season.
“That’s how we usually beat teams. We grind them over a 48-minute stretch until we’re able to pull away with a victory,” he said. “We’re at the point where we’re playing 30 of those 48 minutes the right way. We have the same guys we had last year and the same experience we had last year. It’s just about doing it over and over again.”
Spurs: At Golden State on Friday.
Clippers: Host Sacramento on Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press