Five things to take from Clippers’ 114-105 victory over Spurs in Game 4

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

– It was kind of ironic that coach Doc Rivers became a bit perturbed about being asked – once again – about the lack of a good bench at the pregame news conference at AT&T Center. Then his son, Austin, goes out and has the game of his life with 16 points on 7 of 8 shooting while also playing solid defense. He did all this in 17 absolutely terrific minutes.

– Both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin said that without the younger Rivers, the Clippers would not have won this game. They are probably right. Then again, Paul and Griffin both had monster games. Paul scored 34 points and shot 11 of 19 while doling out seven assists. Griffin scored 20 points and was a beast on the boards with 19 rebounds; he, too, had seven assists. So you could also say that if either one of those two has a mediocre game, the Clippers don’t win this one.

DeAndre Jordan didn’t score much in this one, going for six points. But he had 14 rebounds and four blocked shots that helped the Clippers, setting the tone for a stronger defensive effort than in Game 3, when the Clippers were destroyed by 27 points.

– Another key element to this win was J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford getting their shooting back on track. Redick had shot 10 of 32 in the first three games, but shot 6 of 12 in this one for 17 points. Crawford was 12 of 34 the first three games, and shot 6 of 13 for 15 points in this one. Again, the Clippers needed every bit of that.

– If you’re a Spurs fan, don’t blame Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard or Tony Parker for San Antonio’s loss. Duncan scored 22 points with 14 rebounds, Leonard had 26 points and seven rebounds. Parker scored 18 points. The other two starters – Tiago Splitter and Danny Green – shot a combined 0 of 11. Splitter was 0 of 5, Green 0 of 6. All of Green’s misses were from 3-point range. Ouch! Neither player went to the free-throw line, either.

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Jamal Crawford speaks in philosophical tones about his shooting struggles

Jamal Crawford

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

 

Jamal Crawford had a terrific Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs in their best-of-seven first-round Western Conference playoff series. He scored 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting – 3 of 4 from 3-point range. But he has shot a combined 5 of 24 the past two games – both Clippers losses – 1 of 10 from behind the 3-point line.

Crawford on Saturday was philosophical about his struggles as he spoke to reporters at the team hotel in downtown San Antonio near The Alamo.

“It happens,” Crawford said. “It really does. The shots I got, I hope I get those same shots tomorrow, honestly. They were good shots, they weren’t anything rushed or force, or anything – shots I make 90 percent of the time, in my mind.”

The Clippers and Spurs square off in Game 4 on Sunday at AT&T Center. San Antonio is up 2-1.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 100-73 Game 3 loss to San Antonio Spurs

Jamal Crawford

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

 

– When Jamal Crawford is in a groove, he can be as deadly from the field as anyone. But after shooting 1 of 11 in this one, he is a combined 5 of 24 over the past two games – 1 of 10 from beyond the arc. This needs to change in a hurry, as in Game 4 Sunday.

– Another shooter, J.J. Redick, is also struggling. He is now shooting 31.2 percent from the field (10 of 32) in the series after going 2 of 7 in this massacre. The Clippers need Redick to be closer to the guy who had the best regular season of his nine-year career.

– To be clear, Crawford and Redick were not the only poor shooters in this loss. Blake Griffin was 6 of 15, Chris Paul 3 of 11. As a team, the Clippers shot 34.1 percent, 26.1 percent from 3-point range. Doc Rivers himself said the loss was more about his team’s “awful” offense than their defense that cost them the game. We should note, however, that the Spurs shot 52.6 percent from the field, so that was in play, too.

– We heard it a lot that the Clippers’ bench can’t stack up with San Antonio’s. Clippers reserves scored 30 points, but much of that was during garbage time. Crawford scored just five points before garbage time. The Spurs, on the other hand, got 15 big points, seven rebounds and four assists from Boris Diaw in 23 terrific minutes; six points from Patty Mills and nine from Marco Belinelli.

Matt Barnes has had a rather lousy series. He’s averaging 5.7 points and shooting 30 percent from the field. But at least in Game 2 – when he shot 1 of 10 – he had 10 rebounds. Barnes had zero rebounds in this game. Guarding Kawhi Leonard – or trying to – is killing the rest of his game.

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Sixth-man Jamal Crawford is no longer in a funk with his shooting rhythm

Jamal Crawford

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

 

Not that Jamal Crawford is the type to lose confidence, but he had to have breathed a sign of relief after his performance in Sunday’s 107-92 victory over the defending NBA-champion San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at Staples Center.

Crawford scored 17 points. More importantly, he shot 7 of 10 from the field – 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Considering he had made just 10 of 36 shots (27.7 percent) in the final four regular-season games after missing the previous 17 with a calf injury, that was more than noteworthy. That’s probably why Crawford couldn’t stop smiling afterward.

“Me and Chris (Paul) talk about it all the time,” Crawford said. “We’re consumed in basketball every single day of our lives. To be out five weeks and not be able to do anything but watch, I mean, you can take some good things from it.

“But it was more bad than good for me because you want to be out there so bad and help your team and just be part of the guys. … The injury is one thing, then coming back and conditioning and trying to get a rhythm, all that stuff sucks. But you’ve go to go through the process sometimes.”

Game 2 is Wednesday night at Staples Center.

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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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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 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 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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Jamal Crawford believes victory over Spurs would create optimum confidence

Jamal Crawford

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

 

When you are the defending NBA champions, the world of respect is at your feet. It therefore wasn’t surprising to hear what Clippers sixth-man Jamal Crawford said when asked what it would mean for his team to defeat the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

“Our confidence is already high, but I could see it being at an all-time high,” Crawford said.

Game 1 is Sunday night at 7:30 at Staples Center.

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Jamal Crawford stoked Clippers clinched homecourt advantage for first round

Jamal Crawford

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

 

The Clippers (55-26) still don’t know who they will play in the first round of the upcoming playoffs, but they have clinched homecourt advantage for that first round, thanks to their 110-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night at Staples Center.

Jamal Crawford had a poor shooting night – he was 1 of 6 for three points – but his 3-point play down the stretch helped stave off a Denver team with nothing to lose; the Nuggets  are 30-51.

Crawford was stoked to hear his team will start the playoffs at Staples Center.

“That is huge,” Crawford said. “Like I talked about before the game, the fans have been there through good and bad times. I think they can help push us to the next level, so that is good for us.”

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