LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Clippers returned home Monday after a seven-game, 12-day road trip and quickly notched their biggest win of the season.
The Clippers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 116-92 and showed they can defeat one of the top three teams in the NBA, which has certainly been in question through the first quarter of the season.
The 4-3 road trip wasn’t always smooth for the Clippers, but head coach Doc Rivers said he was encouraged to see the Clippers finish the trip with a road win against the Washington Wizards and respond with another big win at home against the San Antonio Spurs.
“They can win the seventh game on the road,” Rivers said when asked what he learned about his team from the road trip. “That’s how I looked at it, in a strange way. We won the seventh game on the road. You’re mentally tough enough to win that seventh game on the road.”
The Clippers won’t be facing the Wizards in the postseason, but Monday’s win over San Antonio gave the Clippers a quality win over a team they might see in the playoffs and just might give them something to build on for the second quarter of the season.
How it happened: The turning point came in the second quarter, when the Clippers fell behind by 10 points and then went on a 19-0 run to take control of the game. Blake Griffin scored 10 points in the quarter, going 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
What it means: After losing to Miami, Oklahoma City and Indiana earlier in the season and going 6-6 against the woeful East, Monday’s win shows the Clippers still can be the contenders they were advertised to be against a quality opponent.
Hits: Griffin had 27 points and 9 rebounds and just as impressively hit nine of his first 10 free throws (he finished 11-of-15) and hit 8 of 14 shots. Griffin showed off his post moves against Tim Duncan and showed off his range at times, momentarily silencing critics who don’t believe he has improved enough.
Misses: No glaring misses on Monday. More offense from DeAndre Jordan (7 points and 11 rebounds) would always be nice, but you can't ask much more from the Clippers on this night.
Stat of the game: The Clippers shot 74.3 percent from the free throw line, highlighted by Griffin's performance. Jordan was 3-for-6, a percentage the Clippers will gladly take from their center.
Up next: The Clippers are off Tuesday and then return to Staples Center to play the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. It’s the Clippers' first game against Paul’s old team with their new nickname. The Pelicans are 11-11 this season and fighting for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.