Clippers-Spurs Preview

The new-look Los Angeles Clippers acknowledged after their

season opener that it will take some time for them to develop

chemistry and reach their potential. Their progress will be put to

the test early with a trip to San Antonio, where the Clippers

haven’t won in nearly a decade.

Chris Paul and the Clippers look to build on their

season-opening victory Wednesday night when they visit the Spurs,

who have won 16 straight at home in the series.

Los Angeles expects to contend in the Western Conference with

three new players in its starting lineup, including its entire

backcourt. With Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler making

their debuts with the team Sunday night, the Clippers struggled to

execute early and trailed at halftime before pulling away for a

105-86 win at Golden State.

“A win like that, we’ll take it, especially the first one,” said

Blake Griffin, who led Los Angeles with 22 points. “We’ve had

practice for about a week now together. It’s going to take some

time.”

Paul echoed Griffin’s sentiments, but stressed that the Clippers

aren’t planning on a long development process.

“While we try to figure each other out and learn guys’ hot spots

and stuff like that, we want to win at the same time,” said Paul,

who had 20 points and nine assists in his highly anticipated

Clippers debut.

Paul was especially concerned about his team’s rebounding after

the Warriors grabbed 17 offensive boards and outrebounded the

Clippers 48-43 overall.

“I think the biggest thing that killed us was our rebounding,”

Paul said. “Our rebounding was horrendous. Our defense wasn’t as

nice as we’d have liked it to be. We were good in spurts.”

The Clippers haven’t had many good spurts against the Spurs

lately, having lost 46 of 51 meetings since Dec. 10, 1997. Los

Angeles has dropped 16 straight in San Antonio by an average of

14.3 points, last winning there Jan. 31, 2002.

The Clippers, however, won the last meeting 90-85 at home Dec.

1, 2010, snapping an 18-game overall losing streak in the series

behind Griffin’s 31 points and 13 rebounds. Griffin averaged 14.0

points in two losses to the Spurs last season.

San Antonio beat Memphis 95-82 in its season opener Monday

night, defeating the team that upset the top-seeded Spurs in the

first round of the playoffs last spring.

“We played a very good defensive game,” said coach Gregg

Popovich, whose team forced 24 turnovers. “Very active, we crowded

things, got back in transition, got our hands on a lot of balls. We

did a good job of that and it fueled the break back the other

way.”

While the Clippers weren’t all on the same page in their opener,

Popovich was impressed with his veteran team’s performance after a

long offseason and an abbreviated training camp due to the

lockout.

“They executed much better than I expected. They looked real

sharp,” he said.

Manu Ginobili, who led the Spurs with 24 points against the

Grizzlies, has been held to 13.5 per game in his last six against

the Clippers.

While with the Hornets, Paul lost 11 of 13 games in San Antonio,

including playoffs. However, he has averaged 26.3 points while

shooting 56.2 percent from the field and 59.2 percent (13 for 22)

from 3-point range in his last eight visits.