At one point early in the second quarter Sunday, the San Antonio Spurs were making 80% of their shots.
They were even hotter on the Clippers’ end of the court, where guard Keith Bogans inadvertently tipped in a miss by counterpart Ricky Davis.
It was a rare moment of levity for the Clippers during a 115-90 loss at Staples Center in which their defense provided the laugh track for most of the evening.
The Clippers were especially generous hosts in the first quarter, when they surrendered 39 points and allowed San Antonio to shoot 78.9%. The Spurs eventually cooled — slightly — finishing the game shooting 57.3%.
Forward Tim Duncan scored 21 points on nine-for-14 shooting while meeting little resistance underneath the basket. Guard Manu Ginobili and forward Richard Jefferson each had 17 points for the Spurs, who logged their 13th consecutive victory over the Clippers.
“I just thought we could have given a better effort and played with a little more hustle and intensity on the defensive end,” said Clippers point guard Baron Davis, who scored 20 points off the bench after Coach Mike Dunleavy held him out of the starting lineup because of stomach problems.
After falling behind by as many as 25 points in the second quarter, the Clippers closed to within seven points on two occasions in the third quarter. The crowd stirred and “Clipper Darrell,” the boisterous fan who typically watches from well behind the baseline, moved closer to the court to deliver his trademark cheer.
But the Spurs scored eight of the last 10 points in the third quarter and then moved ahead so comfortably that the Clippers played the last 4 minutes 59 seconds with a lineup of reserves Steve Novak, Ricky Davis, Mardy Collins and Sebastian Telfair.
Dunleavy said he started Telfair in place of Baron Davis after Davis told him before the game that he “felt terrible.”
“I was trying to buy some time with him on the bench as long as we could,” said Dunleavy, who let Telfair play the first 6:14 before Davis entered with the Clippers down by eight points.
Davis seemed mildly annoyed that he wasn’t in the game from the opening tip, saying “I don’t know why I didn’t start.” But he acknowledged that he got “tired real fast and was real dizzy, seeing double.” He made six of 15 shots, including two of five three-point attempts.
The Clippers again failed to defend the perimeter, with San Antonio making 11 of 20 three-point attempts. Many were wide-open looks.
“We’ve just got to know where their shooters are at all times and locate them and stay close,” Clippers forward Al Thornton said.
Baron Davis said the Clippers were not “playing to our strength, which is our ability to attack on the offensive end and the defensive end. We’re such a deep team that we can just keep sending fresh bodies, but for some reason we’re not doing that.”
Does he mean that the Clippers need to go with a deeper rotation?
“I didn’t say that,” he said. “I said we’re a deep team and we need to attack, attack, attack and keep fresh bodies in so we can keep pressure on teams.”
Dunleavy said a trade involving center Marcus Camby — or anyone else — was not something he envisioned happening soon.
“I don’t see us probably making a deal imminently in any way, but you never know when a call could come in,” he said, declining to specifically address trade rumors involving Camby.
Asked if he would be reluctant to trade Camby, who ranks among the league leaders in rebounding and blocked shots, Dunleavy said, “When you have a stock that’s going up, you don’t want to sell it. When it’s going down, nobody wants to buy it.
“The only deals that get done are when teams somehow come to some equitable deal that makes sense to make people better for whatever the reason might be.”
Do the Clippers have a surplus of talent at Camby’s position?