The San Antonio Spurs are now up 2-0 after trampling the much-talked-about LA Clippers, 115-90.
Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 24 points, with a 5-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Richard Jefferson proved his doubters wrong and scored 19 with 3-for-4 from three point territory. DeJuan Blair, who had the unenviable task of guarding dunking phenom Blake Griffin, scored 20.
It was an impressive outing for the Spurs, despite the low output of their star player Tim Duncan, who only scored 10 points. Duncan, however, took command of the boards for the Spurs with 9. Point guard Tony Parker chipped in 14 for the team, but dropped 9 dimes out of San Antonio’s 27 assists.
The Clips’ new star Chris Paul was limited to only 3-10 field goal shooting, finishing the game with just 10 points and 9 assists. Blake Griffin led all scorers with 28 points and 9 boards. DeAndre Jordan was the only starter who was not in double digit scores with 8.
This has been relatively a good outing for the Spurs as they shot 52% from the field and a perfect 15-for-15 in the free throw line. The Clippers had a miserable 39% shooting percentage, and was out rebounded by the defensive side of San Antonio, whose big men were relatively shorter than either Griffin or Jordan.
The win gave the Spurs the continuous winning streak over the Clippers at the AT&T Center with 17 wins since January of 2002. The Spurs last won the first two games of the season in 2008.
The Spurs will hit the road for their game against Houston tomorrow, while Chicago will be visiting Los Angeles on Saturday, PST.
All of a sudden, the NBA’s perennial whipping boys for the last three decades are set to remake their image into contenders, as the LA Clippers landed a deal with the league-owned New Orleans Hornets, acquiring 4-time NBA All Star Chris Paul.
A few weeks ago, it seemed Paul was headed to the other LA Team–the Lakers–which would have pushed a deal between the Hornets and the Houston Rockets. That is, until NBA Commissioner David Stern stepped in and killed the trade for “basketball reasons.” The Clippers joined in the trading fray after the three-team deal collapsed. The Clippers sent guard Eric Gordon, big man Chris Kaman and his soon-to-expire $12.7-million contract to the Hornets, along with sophomore forward Al-Farouq Aminu and the 2012 unprotected first-round draft pick the Clippers acquired from the also-rebuilding Minnesota Timberwolves in 2005.
The Lakers, obviously, are utterly upset with the turn of events. Just recently, the Lakers let lose Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks, and may lose the chance to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic. The pressure adds up especially if you see that the team sharing the Staples Center with your team has transformed from all-time cellar-dweller to playoff contender. And, did I mention the Lakers have a new coach?
On paper, the Clips have all the reason to smile with the acquisition they’ve had in the past weeks. But to reach the playoffs–or at least to finally bolt out of the bottom of the standings–have yet to be seen when the season tips off on the 25th. And so the proverbial “wait and see.”
Nonetheless, the excitement and enthusiasm of seeing Paul wearing a jersey that looks like that of Griffin is something to be really joyous about. Brace yourselves for a lot of nifty passes and high-flying dunks as the Clippers flaunt their new line-up when the season kicks off soon.
One player’s eye is fixed on the scoreboard one minute, and then drops it heavily on the next one, as the clock winds down. Three other players run across the court, pretending they’re about to do a play that’s worth the lead of the opponent, while the player bringing the ball inbound takes a deep breath, launches the ball with half his body tired, and half his mind despairing.
The bench looks just as much distraught as the five on the floor. Some are just emptying the last cup of Gatorade, as if that was the only thing worth coming to a losing game like that one. The others have their towels draped over their heads, either to dry the sweat or to cover their shame. And the coach is putting the cap of his marker back on, after drawing so many plays he hoped could salvage the team. In the end, he feels like he wasted one-fourth of the pen’s ink to yet another loss.
An on-court scene and a courtside scene all too familiar for the “other LA team.”
Before we get ahead of ourselves, imagine and consider with me the following: the Los Angeles Clippers were blessed last year of the chance to take the 1st pick of the first round. And true enough, they got the trump card with Blake Griffin. They were able to keep Baron Davis, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Kaman, keeping the core of the Clippers team intact, as far as experience and gelling on the court is concerned. Eric Gordon added to the offensive fire power of the team. They had a pretty decent performance during pre-season games, and with Griffin in full condition, after missing most of his rookie season due to a kneecap injury, the Clippers were the promising team expected to rise this year.
They’re 1-13 in the win-loss standings so far.
The 13 straight losses obviously more than eclipses the opening night victory they had. Everybody was expecting this season to be the official coming-out party for Griffin, who missed the season on a major injury. But it seems the Clippers are once again stuck in that same ‘ole dusty, cellar spot in the standings, and if they don’t jumpstart something of a winning fashion, they’ll be doomed even before all-star break commences.
It’s as puzzling, the pile-up of defeats one by one, as is the seemingly solid core they brag about. But paper facts on what the team has, and whatever output is logged on the floor are two very different things to consider. Unfortunately, the Clippers cannot reconcile these two disparate sides of their performances every night, and so far, they’ve been on the losing end of things thirteen straight times.
An all too familiar scene, indeed.