Although Eric Gordon is unsure why the Los Angeles Clippers are downright dominant whenever they face the NBA’s best team this season, he’s really hoping they’ll learn something they can apply to the other 28 teams.
Blake Griffin had 31 points and 13 rebounds, Gordon added 21 points and the Clippers ended an 18-game skid against the Spurs, beating NBA-leading San Antonio 90-85 Wednesday night.
Baron Davis had seven points and 10 assists in his return from a 10-game injury absence for the Clippers, who have the league’s worst record at 4-15. They still beat a team with the NBA’s best record for the second time in 10 days, following a similarly stunning win over New Orleans late last month.
Although neither team played very well in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points apiece, the Clippers won by attrition, ending the slow-legged Spurs’ 8-0 road start to the season.
"Yeah, we play well against teams that have a good record," said Gordon, who scored seven points in the fourth. "We just have to compete like that all the time. Our offense was good, and we didn’t have any letdowns during the game. We just have to be consistent."
George Hill scored 17 points and Manu Ginobili added 15 for the Spurs, who lost for just the second time in 16 games and dropped to 15-3 with their first road loss. Tim Duncan had just eight points, one night after posting a triple-double at Golden State.
The Spurs refused to make excuses for an ugly effort against a team that hadn’t beaten them since March 7, 2006.
"We played badly, bottom line," Duncan said. "Nobody played well. I played awful. The ball wouldn’t go in the hole. On top of that, Blake played great, Eric played great, and they kept making shots down the stretch. … Our defense gave us a chance, and we got to that threshold where a 3-ball or any made shot would have got us right in it, and we couldn’t get the ball to go down."
Los Angeles took the lead with a 20-2 run spanning halftime and never lost the advantage despite a shaky fourth quarter that included six straight misses from the free throw line. The Clippers have won three of five after a 1-13 start during a fairly brutal November schedule compounded by the injury absence of Davis, Chris Kaman and Randy Foye.
"It’s always great to give our loyal fans something great to see like this win," Griffin said. "We have lost winnable games on the road, though, and we need to take care of that."
Davis returned after sitting out all but 10 minutes of the Clippers’ November schedule with a sore left knee. The fragile guard had missed 14 of Los Angeles’ last 15 games, but he took over in the final minutes for rookie starter Eric Bledsoe, who managed just five points.
San Antonio had won nine straight over Los Angeles at Staples Center, but the Spurs clearly had little energy, making just six of their 21 shots in the final period. Duncan was held scoreless, and Richard Jefferson got just three of his 13 points in the final period.
"You have to give the credit to their defense and to their energy, so I’m happy for them," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "It’s the NBA, and anybody can beat anybody at any time."
Tony Parker had just two points on 1-for-6 shooting and sat out most of the second half for the Spurs, playing just 2:28 in the third quarter. Several celebrity news outlets reported he had lunch earlier Wednesday with his estranged actress wife, Eva Longoria, who filed for divorce last month.
San Antonio led 38-30 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first half before the Clippers roared away on an 18-2 run led by three 3-pointers by Rasual Butler and two late baskets by Griffin. The Spurs missed 14 of their last 15 shots in the first half, including nine straight while falling behind 48-40.
NOTES: Kaman missed his 11th straight game with a sprained ankle. The club hasn’t projected a firm return date for the former All-Star center. Foye also missed his second straight game with a strained left hamstring. … The clubs concluded their season series with their third meeting. … When Duncan fell to the court holding his foot in the second quarter after drawing a foul on an apparently clean block by DeAndre Jordan, a fan near courtside screamed: "We know bad acting, Tim Duncan. This is L.A.!" … Fans near courtside included director Penny Marshall and actress Sasha Grey.