The Los Angeles Clippers played with a chip on their shoulder, coming out amped up at the prospect of exacting a little revenge on the San Antonio Spurs.
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Led by high-flying dunkmeisters DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, the Clippers rolled to a 106-84 victory on Wednesday night, handing the Spurs their first loss of the season.
”We still remember what they did to us a couple months ago,” Jordan said about the team that swept the Clippers out of the second round of the playoffs. ”That was extra motivation.”
Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan had 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead six players who scored in double figures while helping the Clippers snap a two-game skid. Los Angeles controlled the boards, 46-29.
”They kicked our (rear end),” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ”They were more emotional, more aggressive, and it meant something to them for all the obvious reasons. We hung in there for a half, but after that I don’t think we played with the same intensity that they did, and it showed.”
Danny Green scored 12 points, including three 3-pointers, and Tim Duncan added 10 for the Spurs, whose 4-0 start was the best in franchise history. No Spurs player took more than eight shots and their 20 turnovers led to 21 points for Los Angeles.
Tony Parker was held to four points and Manu Ginobili had nine on a combined 4-of-15 shooting.
”We knew it was going to be a personal game and we knew they were going to come out here and be fired up,” Duncan said. ”We hoped that we would have a better response to that, but we didn’t. So credit to them. They played much better than we did and it was a good win for them.”
Los Angeles opened the season with wins over the Grizzlies and Lakers, then stumbled with home losses to Golden State and Cleveland.
”Chauncey (Billups) gave us a good talking to after the last two games,” Jordan said. ”We really didn’t want to disappoint him. He told us that we took our last two opponents for granted and we didn’t come out to play. Tonight we brought more intensity and it helped us.”
Jordan, Griffin and Chris Paul, who had 10 points and 12 assists, left the game for good with 4:47 remaining and the Clippers ahead by 25. They had just finished a raucous stretch of dunks off alley-oop passes during a 12-2 spurt. Griffin had three big dunks in the sequence after Jordan’s high-flying act dominated the third quarter.
The Spurs got no closer than 11 points after opening the fourth on an 11-2 run. Jamal Crawford hit a 3-pointer to re-ignite the Clippers’ offense.
The Clippers took an 82-62 lead into the fourth after outscoring the Spurs 35-21 in the third while shooting 71 percent from the field. Los Angeles dominated the defensive glass 12-2 and its second unit extended the lead to 20 points while Griffin and Paul spent the last few minutes on the bench.
Eric Bledsoe led Los Angeles’ reserves with 15 points and Matt Barnes added 12.
”We were so successful because of our defense,” Paul said. ”When you defend and stop teams, that’s when it’s fun. If you can defend on a nightly basis in this league you’ve always got a chance to win. We needed a win like this.”
Jordan had three highlight-reel dunks in the third quarter, including a fast break off an alley-oop pass from Paul. The Spurs were held to 37 percent shooting and outscored 22-10 in the paint.
”When D.J.’s on his game, he’s tough,” Griffin said. ”He can score, catch anything, alter and block shots. When he’s active like that the paint is controlled by him.”
The Clippers led 47-41 at halftime after being ahead by 11 points early in the second. They had just six turnovers after committing 13 in the first half against Cleveland in their previous game. Griffin, Paul and Jordan propelled the Clippers’ offense in the second quarter, with Jordan scoring eight points, including consecutive dunks, and Griffin and Paul four each.
Notes: Paul had his right hand wrapped after the game in what he said was a ”preventative” measure. He had thumb surgery last summer. … Ginobili scored nine points in his 670th game with the Spurs, moving him into fifth on the franchise list. … Griffin played with a sleeve covering his right elbow for the second straight game. He has fluid on his elbow and a stiff neck. … The Spurs’ loss left the Knicks as the NBA’s only undefeated team. … Billy Crystal and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were among the Clippers’ fourth sellout crowd of the season and 53rd in a row.