The San Antonio Spurs hosted the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, Jan. 4, and this was the first in a spate of games that will see Lob City without Chris Paul (shoulder). The Spurs jumped out to an enormous lead and held off a second-half run for the 116-92 win.
Tiago Splitter led the Spurs (26-8) with 22 points, but he exited with an apparent shoulder injury of his own in the fourth quarter. Tim Duncan tallied 19 points and 11 rebounds. Tony Parker scored 17 on 8-of-9 shooting and added nine dimes.
Jamal Crawford led all scorers with 24 points and his 15-point third quarter had the Clippers (23-13) imagining they could actually erase the 37-point deficit that had mounted.
The Spurs administered an old-fashioned beatdown through 24 minutes of play and took a 70-35 lead into the locker room. Some strong Clippers defense marked the start of the third quarter and helped trim the deficit to 20. They got within 13 points with 9:37 remaining, but the mountain was too tall to climb.
The Spurs had too much quality to let this one slip away, especially at home. With visions of their 105-101 home loss to the New York Knicks on Jan. 2, San Antonio turned on the afterburners and pulled away for good.
Chris Paul will miss the next three to five weeks after separating his shoulder on Jan. 3, coach Doc Rivers told the Associated Press (via Sporting News). Paul tripped over Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis and landed squarely on his right shoulder.
On the plus side, competent point guard Darren Collison filled in and looked strong with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, six assists and three steals.