Five things to take from Clippers’ 107-92 Game 1 victory over San Antonio

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Jamal Crawford had shot just 10 of 36 (27.7 percent) from the field in four games since returning from a calf injury that caused him to miss 17 consecutive games. To see him shoot 7 of 10 – 3 of 4 from 3-point range – and score 17 points in this game was nothing more than a really terrific thing for the Clippers. They need all they can get from a bench not nearly as deep as San Antonio’s.

– You could see it by the look of determination Chris Paul had on his face. There was just no way the Clippers were going to lose this game if he had anything to say about it. He scored 32 points on 13 of 20 from the field – 3 of 5 from beyond the arc – and also pulled down seven rebounds while doling out six assists. Doesn’t get much stronger than that. Will this be the year Paul and the Clippers get past the second round? Stay tuned.

– As good as Paul was, Blake Griffin was almost as good. He scored 26 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, had six assists and three blocked shots in an overall fine performance. He also showed some of the ferocity we don’t see quite as much since he added the outside game to his repertoire by throwing down a mean tomahawk dunk in the third quarter for a 77-61 lead. Griffin also wore that winning look.

– Even though the Clippers emerged victorious, one has to wonder if San Antonio’s deeper bench will eventually play a larger role in determining the outcome of these games. The Spurs got 43 points from six reserves, the Clippers got the 17 points from Crawford and only five more from two other players combined. The Clippers’ starters played many more minutes than their San Antonio counterparts. Griffin played nearly 43 minutes, DeAndre Jordan played over 38 minutes and Paul nearly 38. Kawhi Leonard played the most minutes for the Spurs at 33. Will the Clippers starters tire out if this continues?

– We can’t leave out the fans. They were as good as they have been all year, with the Spurs getting only a few cheers from a few people. The Clippers notice when fans at their Staples Center root for the opponent, and it was a good thing that almost all the love was for the Clippers in this one. When Griffin threw down that aforementioned monster slam, the Clippers faithful went absolutely wild.

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VIDEO: Check out this monster slam dunk by Blake Griffin in win over Spurs

Chris Paul scored 32 points and Blake Griffin had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers in their 107-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night at Staples Center in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Although Griffin’s dunk total was down this season, you won’t find too many more vicious than this one he threw down over the Spurs’ Aron Baynes. Check it out:

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Clippers lead Spurs 49-43 at halftime in Game 1 at Staples Center

Blake Griffin scored 13 points, Jamal Crawford had nine and Chris Paul and J.J. Redick seven apiece and the Clippers led the San Antonio Spurs 49-43 at halftime of Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series Sunday at Staples Center.

The Clippers shot 47.2 percent from the field.

Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with nine points. San Antonio shot just 35.6 percent.

DeAndre Jordan scored five points for the Clippers, all on free throws as the Spurs went to the Hack-a-DJ late in the half. Jordan was 5 of 12 from the free-throw line.

 

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Doc Rivers loves hard-working players like J.J. Redick and Blake Griffin

J.J. Redick/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers appear to be a team of hard-working players, the type who work and work on their game to make it better. But one would be hard-pressed to find two players who work harder than forward Blake Griffin and guard J.J. Redick, attests coach Doc Rivers.

“I have a gym full of talented players, but the special ones stand out,” said Rivers, whose team took on the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.. “And it’s usually not their athleticism. Everybody’s an athlete in the NBA. It’s all the other intangibles that makes them great. Mental toughness, their basketball IQ, their work habits, which I think gets overlooked by all of them.

“It’s no coincidence that when you walk in the gym, you look over there every day and there’s Blake. What I’m always amazed at, personally, is why the whole team doesn’t do that, you know? I think J.J. takes more shots than anybody on our team per day and so if your best shooter is doing that, it would just make sense that the guys who are under him would say, ‘Well, I think I need to take more shots than them to be a better shooter, or as good.’ ”

Redick is having his best season, averaging 16.4 points per game while shooting 47.7 percent from the field overall, 43.7 from 3-point range. All of those numbers are personal-bests.

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Doc Rivers has ‘zero’ concern about Jamal Crawford’s struggles since return

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Clippers sixth-man Jamal Crawford played the last four games of the regular season after missing the 17 previous games with a calf injury. Crawford has struggled since his return, making just 10 of 36 from the field, which equates to 27.8 percent. He’s made just 4 of 19 from 3-point range for 21.1 percent.

Prior to Game 1 of the team’s Western Conference first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night at Staples Center, coach Doc Rivers was asked what his level of concern is in this regard.

“Zero,” Rivers said. “Jamal will be fine. it just takes time. He’ll be good.”

Keep in mind that Crawford averages 15.8 points on the team, so he’s an integral part of the offense.

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Chris Paul says Clippers have to give their fans ‘something to cheer about’

Chris Paul talks with coach Doc Rivers during a recent game at Staples Center/Photo by John McCoy, Los Angeles Daily News

Throughout this season there have been plenty of times when fans at Staples Center have cheered heartily for the opponents of the Clippers. Blake Griffin recently expressed his disappointment in that regard.

At the Sunday morning shootaround, Chris Paul was asked if he had a message for fans who will be attending Sunday night’s Game 1 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs between the Clippers and visiting San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center.

“Let’s go,” Paul said. “I mean, it’s the playoffs, it’s what we’ve been waiting for, where we wanted to get to. So I think we’ve gotta do our part and give them something to cheer about.”

 

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Live Blog: Clippers vs. Spurs Game 1

 


If you haven’t seen them, here are NBA Columnist Mark Heisler‘s Top 9 story lines for this year’s NBA Playoffs. Also, we’ve compiled a few links from Clippers camp from the last few days. It’s good reading material.
Be sure check back later today to join us for our chat and live blog.

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Clippers vs. Spurs: Game 1 reading material

Here’s a few links about today’s game while we wait for tip-off.

Let us know in the comments section who will win the series, and in how many games.

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Chris Paul says Clippers definitely more prepared for this go-round with Spurs

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Chris Paul’s first season with the Clippers was 2011-12. Paul helped the Clippers to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, where they were swept by in four games by the San Antonio Spurs.

The Clippers will play the Spurs in the first round beginning Sunday night at 7:30 at Staples Center. Paul was queried at practice this week as to whether his team is more prepared for this go-round with San Antonio. Paul answered sharply.

“If we’re not better prepared now than we were three years ago,” Paul said, “then we probably shouldn’t even play.”

The team in ’11-’12 had Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin but not Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick or Jamal Crawford.

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