Spurs beat Clippers to win fifth straight
SAN ANTONIO (AP)
Injuries have decimated the Clippers, who are off to another horrendous start for the woebegone franchise. They fell to 1-8, so far showing no signs of the playoff potential that first-year coach Vinny Del Negro felt he had.
Tony Parker had 21 points and nine assists for the Spurs.
Rasual Butler led the Clippers with 18 points.
Blake Griffin struggled for a second straight game, scoring 11 points on 5-of-18 shooting, a night after scoring 10 in a loss to New Orleans. His most memorable play was a one-handed alley-oop dunk late in the fourth, which he may have thrown down with frustration after the rookie was whistled for a technical foul.
San Antonio improved to 6-1, and is far making good on their goal of not lumbering out of the gate as in recent seasons. Only undefeated New Orleans has beaten the Spurs, who've taken advantage of struggling teams during this early streak.
In beating the Clippers, the Spurs have won their last three games against one-win teams. Next up is Philadelphia, which has won only twice.
But the Clippers didn't make this one entirely easy.
Forced to play their fourth different starting lineup already this season, the Clippers took the lead midway through the third quarter on an Eric Bledose 3-pointer. The Spurs answered with a 10-0 run, and despite a brief surge in the fourth quarter, the Clippers were soon headed home after a winless four-game road trip.
Tim Duncan, who skipped shootaround Wednesday morning because of flu-like symptoms, still started but scored just six points in 22 minutes. Jefferson was 4 of 6 from behind the 3-point line.
DeAndre Jordan, making his first start of the year in place of center Chris Kaman, had six poins and six rebounds.
Kaman is expected to miss at least two weeks after spraining his ankle Tuesday night at New Orleans. The Clippers were also missing leading scorer Eric Gordon (shoulder) for the second straight night and point guard Baron Davis.
Davis played for the first time in five games Tuesday, but Del Negro said his sore knee still isn't healthy enough to play back-to-backs. Backup guard Randy Foye (hamstring) also coninues to sit out.
The injuries have hampered what Del Negro though could be the first Clippers playoff team in six years.
''We still feel that way, but we have to have results,'' Del Negro said before the game. ''We don't have that yet, whether it's injuries or we haven't been together that long.''
Notes: The Clippers haven't beaten the Spurs since March 2006. They'll get their next chance Dec. 1 in San Antonio, where the Clippers haven't won in eight years. ... Spurs rookie Gary Neal, who hit five 3-pointers in a win Monday at Charlotte, didn't enter the game until close to the final minute.