LOS ANGELES -- Last season the Los Angeles Clippers came out of the All-Star break and lost at home to the San Antonio Spurs by 26 points. It was a demoralizing loss that showed how far the Clippers were from being contenders.
Tuesday night the Clippers returned home from the All-Star break and once again saw the Spurs. This time, the Spurs beat the Clippers, 113-103. It wasn't a blowout but considering the Spurs were playing without Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Tiago Splitter and haven't played at home since Feb. 1, it felt almost as demoralizing.
The Clippers want to consider themselves a contender and top-five team in the NBA, but they'll have to find a way to beat the Spurs or at least a shell of the Spurs for that to happen.
How it happened: The Clippers were in control of the game for much of the first half before losing the lead with about a minute left before the break when the Spurs went on a 12-1 run. The Clippers came close but never took the lead again as the Spurs went up by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter.
What it means: A win would have moved the Clippers into the No. 3 seed in the West and less than two games behind the Spurs for the No. 2 seed. After the loss, the Clippers remain the No. 4 seed and have the fifth-best record in the conference, meaning they would open the first round on the road against Portland. It's a position the Clippers certainly don't want to be in by the end of the season.
Misses: With Crawford leaving the bench again to become the Clippers' starting shooting guard for the foreseeable future, the Clippers need to find a consistent scoring presence in their second unit. That was missing Tuesday night as no Clippers reserve had more than 10 points. In fact, after Darren Collison's 10 points, the rest of the Clippers' reserves combined for only eight points.
Stat of the game: While the Clippers made only six of their 21 3-point attempts, the Spurs hit 9-of-20 with Patty Mills hitting 2-of-3 and scoring 25 points off the bench.
Up next: The Clippers next play Friday night in Memphis to begin a three-game trip against the Grizzlies, Thunder and Pelicans. The Clippers split their first two games against the Grizzlies, winning the last one 101-81 in Memphis.