The San Antonio Spurs had rallied within a basket of the Los Angeles Clippers with less than 30 seconds remaining and the crowd was buzzing.
Some would call it a tense situation. Chris Paul calls it ”winning time.”
Paul had 19 points and eight assists and the Clippers beat San Antonio 92-87 on Monday night for their second win against the Spurs this season.
Paul’s 10-foot jumper in the lane with 24.6 seconds left gave the Clippers a 91-87 lead.
”Yeah, I wanted to shoot; I didn’t know how, I just needed a little space,” Paul said. ”I love those situations – when it’s winning time. We’re up two with 24 seconds left, I want it.”
Spurs guard Gary Neal missed a 3-point attempt on the subsequent possession, which Eric Bledsoe gathered for his fifth rebound. Bledsoe, who had nine points, made one of two free throws for the final margin.
Matt Barnes added 14 points, DeAndre Jordan 13 and Blake Griffin had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers (8-2).
Tim Duncan had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Spurs (8-3), who suffered their second home loss this season. Manu Ginobili added 15 points and Tony Parker 11.
The Spurs rallied when Matt Bonner made a pair of 3s sandwiched around one from Parker to pull to 88-85 with 2 minutes remaining.
Bonner, who did not play in the first three periods, finished with 10 points.
San Antonio needed the late rally after losing a lead and Stephen Jackson after the first quarter. Jackson, who suffered a non-displaced fracture to his right pinkie finger late in the first quarter, is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Jackson finished with two points and two rebounds, but the team missed his toughness most.
”Of all our games, this game was in the soft category,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ”We never had five guys that competed hard enough to win the basketball games. The Clippers took it with their aggressiveness and their toughness, both mentally and physically. For a portion of that game, we were an embarrassment.”
The Spurs were outscored 29-14 in the second quarter while shooting 3 for 18 from the field. It was a season low for points in a quarter by San Antonio.
Neal, returning to the lineup after missing two games with a cut on his right index finger, made a runner on his first attempt to give San Antonio a 30-20 lead. That runner with 11:19 left in the half was the last basket for 8 minutes for the Spurs, who missed 11 shots and had six turnovers in the drought.
”We know we’re a handful on the offensive end,” Barnes said. ”If we can start controlling the defensive end, that’s when we’re really going to start winning games and making an imprint in this league. We have the talent to do it. We have the athleticism to do it. It’s just the heart and hunger to do it.”
Jackson’s injury didn’t muster any sympathy from Paul during or after the game.
”Injuries happen,” he said. ”We’re without Chauncey (Billups, left Achilles rehab) and Grant (Hill, right knee bone bruise).”
Paul’s jumper gave the Clippers a 34-33 lead with 5:31 left in the first half that they extended to 45-36 on Paul’s 22-foot jumper.
Danny Green’s 3-pointer pulled the Spurs to 67-63 with 1:29 remaining in the third, but Paul responded again with another jumper on the ensuing possession.
NOTES: Jackson was starting his second game in place of Kawhi Leonard, who is out with quadriceps tendinitis in his left knee. Jackson is averaging 8.3 points this season while making 10 of 34 3-point attempts. … Leonard missed his second game after missing only two last season in his rookie year. … Clippers F Caron Butler suffered a right shoulder strain in the first half and did not return. His status was unknown. … The Spurs open a six-game road trip Friday at Boston. It is San Antonio’s fourth road trip of four games or more to start the season. … Popovich said the team will likely activate G Cory Joseph to replace Jackson on the roster. … The Spurs opened the season with four straight wins before losing 101-79 to the Clippers on Nov. 5 in Los Angeles.