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Clippers get road win against Spurs

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SAN ANTONIO — Saturday’s game between the Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs was summed up in the final second of the first half.

Los Angeles guard Chris Paul drained a 3-pointer with 0.6 of a second left in the half. Then Spurs forward Boris Diaw heaved a final shot across the court and hit Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in the back of the head as he was walking into the locker room.

Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin scored 31 points as the Clippers defeated the Spurs 105-85 on Saturday night at the AT&T Center.

Griffin shot 12 of 21 and also tallied 13 rebounds and five assists for the Clippers in their second game in as many nights.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said it was a good win for his team, considering the loss it suffered to the New Orleans Pelicans the previous night.

“The difference — (assistant coach) Mike Woodson turned to me two minutes into the game and asked, ‘That’s the team that played last night?'” Rivers said. “I responded, ‘No, it wasn’t.’ We had great focus and our pace was fantastic.”

Paul added 20 points, while reserve center Spencer Hawes contributed 11. Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan had eight points and 19 rebounds, four off his season high.

San Antonio was led by guard Kawhi Leonard, who scored a team-high 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting. Guard Danny Green added 16 points as the Spurs lost for the third time in their last 12 games.

The Clippers (33-15) rebounded from a five-point loss in New Orleans on Friday night with their seventh win in eight games. Los Angeles led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter as it snapped San Antonio’s three-game overall winning streak and its six-game win streak at home.

Paul said the team played with the right pace against San Antonio, a necessity against a team like the Spurs.

“They turned up the intensity in the second and half and were more aggressive,” Paul said. “We were trying to be the aggressors and not be reactive.”

The Clippers are in the midst of an eight-game road trip, while the Spurs have two more home games before embarking on their annual February rodeo road trip.

Both teams jumped out to quick starts, but the Spurs (30-18) fizzled in the second quarter as the Clippers built a large buffer between the teams.

Los Angeles scored seven points in the final 48.9 seconds of the first half and took a 56-42 lead into the halftime break. The Spurs were 6-of-19 shooting in the second quarter, and San Antonio also could not match Los Angeles’ tenacity on the boards. The Clippers had a 25-17 rebounding edge after two quarters.

The Clippers finished the night with 20 more rebounds than the Spurs, but Popovich said one aspect of a game never solely determines the outcome.

“Tonight, in the area of execution and in competitiveness, we were beaten badly in both regards,” Popovich said. “And at the same time, we didn’t play very smart. And at the same time, we didn’t have enough players play well.”

Los Angeles’ lead only swelled as the second half continued, and Popovich pulled his starters well before the end of the contest.

With 4:28 left in the game, Griffin went down the middle and dunked the ball for his final points of the evening. That gave the Clippers a 21-point advantage.

The Spurs only shot 37 percent from the field and finished the night with 17 turnovers.

“They played much better than us in every aspect of the game — boards, offense, defense, moving the ball,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. “We were behind the whole game. We never had a chance.”

NOTES: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said G Marco Belinelli could make a return on Wednesday against Orlando. Belinelli has been out since Jan. 10 with a right groin injury. … Spurs F Tiago Splitter returned to the lineup and started against the Clippers. Splitter did not play Jan. 28 in a win over Charlotte because of a coach’s decision. … The Spurs have two more home games remaining before they embark on their annual February road trip. The Spurs will play nine straight games on the road. … Saturday night’s game was the second for the Clippers in as many nights. The Clippers lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 108-103 on the road Friday, snapping a six-game win streak. … Los Angeles G Chris Paul is six assists shy of passing Derek Harper (5,677) for 19th on the league’s career assists list.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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