Clippers hope to be more of a threat to Spurs this time
If the Spurs are in it for the feel-good aspect of things then indeed, a replay of their 125-87 victory over the Clippers on Dec. 13 would be the preferred selection. But that game hardly represents what the Clippers are now, just over two weeks later.
The high-scoring Clippers were in something of a lull the last time the teams met, a hiccup that was mostly blamed on the absence of fearless reserve guard Lou Williams. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year was down with a hamstring injury the last time the Spurs and Clippers met.
Those 87 points the Clippers scored, in their second full game without Williams since his injury, was one point off their season-low.
In the first four games of Williams’ return, the Clippers scored at least 125 points, and their one defeat in that stretch came when they scored 127 points in a thriller at Golden State.
The Clippers failed to reach the 125-point mark in their victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, but Williams poured in a season-high 36.
Both Williams and Montrezl Harrell have been a handful off the Clippers bench, with Harrell averaging 17.3 points in his last seven games.
“The energy (is) back with that second group,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We had kind of lost that for a while and you can see it back when (Harrell) and Lou come in the game. The game changes.”
The Clippers might be one of the higher scoring teams in the league, but the Spurs enter not so far removed from a stretch when they held eight consecutive opponents under 100 points. NBA teams have averaged a shade over 110 points per game this season, the highest since the 1985-86 season.
The Spurs will enter their matchup with the Clippers coming off a loss to the Denver Nuggets, but they gave up just 102 points in that one, at Denver. Two days prior, the Spurs earned a 111-103 victory over the Nuggets at home.
Despite the loss to the Nuggets, the Spurs do have some momentum having cut a 16-point Denver lead to a single point on multiple occasions, but could not finish off the rally.
“It just shows you we can go out there and compete with the best and why we should look at ourselves as one of the best teams in the league as well,” Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan said of playing against the Nuggets, the top team in the Western Conference.
Despite two losses in their past three games, the Spurs are 8-3 over their last 11.
DeRozan scored 15 points in Friday’s defeat and has scored at least 14 points over his last eight games, including 30 on Wednesday, ever since he was held to five in a Dec. 11 victory over the Suns.