Spurs hold off Clippers, improve to 15-0 at home
SAN ANTONIO (AP) The San Antonio Spurs were upset with non-calls, became anxious as they struggled to overcome a rare deficit and grew tense as they fought to maintain a late lead against the Los Angeles Clippers.
And the Spurs enjoyed it all.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Tony Parker scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, and San Antonio held on for a 115-107 victory on Friday night to remain undefeated at home.
After winning their previous four games by an average of 26 points, the Spurs embraced the challenge of capturing and maintaining a lead in the final minutes.
''Clips are a hell of a team,'' San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. ''Very experienced, obviously well-coached, they're disciplined (and) they're used to winning. So, when you can win a game like that, it gives you a good measuring stick.''
Kawhi Leonard had 19 points and Tim Duncan added 14 for the Spurs, who are 15-0 at home this season.
Chris Paul had 27 points and 10 assists for the Clippers, who entered the game having won nine of 11. Blake Griffin added 25 points and DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 17 rebounds.
The Spurs leads the league in several defensive categories, but offense dominated the first matchup between the teams since the Clippers eliminated the then-defending champions in the first round of last season's playoffs.
''It's just two very offensively powered teams,'' Paul said. ''We are usually right up there at the top in the league in offense and they are usually right up there, too. Tonight both teams just made shots and it came down to whoever made the most stops.''
San Antonio opened the final quarter on an 11-0 run, beginning with Patty Mills' layup on the fifth pass of the possession after the Spurs passed up three 3-pointers. Parker's 3-pointer closed the run and gave San Antonio a 96-88 lead with 9:17 remaining.
''I thought we still played all right (during the Spurs' run),'' Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. ''I just didn't think we executed well offensively and I thought it bled over to our defense. I thought we were frustrated from the offensive end in that stretch and then they scored every time.''
The Spurs then resumed intentionally fouling Jordan, and it disrupted their offense as much as it limited the Clippers.
San Antonio would not score until Parker hit another 3-pointer with 6:08 remaining, but the Spurs were able to maintain a 99-93 advantage. Parker also drained a 15-footer with 1:19 remaining and ran down a long rebound off Manu Ginobili's miss with 53 seconds.
San Antonio entered the game holding opponents to 88.2 points, but the Clippers matched that in taking an 88-85 lead entering the fourth.
''This is good for us,'' Aldridge said. ''It makes us focus at the end of the game; not be so easy. I thought our guys played well down the stretch.''
Aldridge shot 11 for 18 and grabbed 11 defensive rebounds in matching his season high for points.
''It was huge, it was huge,'' Parker said. ''I felt like we really saw the LaMarcus we're going to need if we're going to make any kind of run.''
Clippers: Griffin had 13 points in the first half. It was the 22nd time he has scored in double figures in the first half, which leads the league. ... The Clippers will play just four games at home this month, which is the least in a single month in franchise history since playing three games in January 1992.
Spurs: The Spurs have won nine games by 20-plus points, which is the most in the league this season. Oklahoma City is second with five wins of 20-plus.
MORE 3s, PLEASE
Griffin made both of his 3-point attempts, raising his season average to 40 percent on 6-for-15 shooting. Rivers said he would like Griffin to start taking more 3-pointers, but the onus is on Griffin.
''He can shoot them,'' Rivers said. ''It's funny, he works on them. I still think at times he doesn't really want to shoot them unless we draw the play up for him to shoot it or it's late clock.''
NOT A FAN
Ginobili said he is not a fan of intentionally fouling to put a poor free-throw shooter at the line.
Jordan was 8 for 20 from the line, with most of the fouls being committed intentionally beginning late in the third quarter.
''If they change the rule, we'll adapt,'' Ginobili said. ''If the rules are like that, they're shooting poor percentages. When you do the equation, the points per possession that they get with that, it works out. If something changes in the rules, then you adapt and look for a different strategy. Maybe it's not the most attractive strategy, but it's within the rules.''
Clippers: At Houston on Saturday night.
Spurs: Host Indiana on Monday night.