The sequence had a rhythm to it, even if it robbed the game of any semblance of one.
The San Antonio Spurs would place their arms on DeAndre Jordan's upper body, the crowd would boo and the Clippers center would step to the free-throw line.
It happened again and again and again Thursday night at Staples Center, repeating itself so often that at one point Spurs center Aron Baynes appeared to apologize to the Jordan for the tactic.
Jordan made fewer than half of his free throws while being intentionally fouled, but the Clippers felt whole after enduring the strategy on the way to a 119-115 victory in their first game after the All-Star break.
Chris Paul dribbled behind his back and sank a 16-foot jump shot with eight seconds left to give the Clippers a three-point lead after a Marco Belinelli three-pointer had pulled the Spurs to within 115-114.
San Antonio's Manu Ginobili made only one of two free throws with 7.2 seconds left before the Clippers' J.J. Redick gave his team a four-point lead by making two free throws with 6.1 seconds to go.
Ginobili then threw the ball out of bounds in the final second to help the Clippers improve to 3-1 since All-Star forward Blake Griffin underwent surgery to remove a staph infection from his right elbow.
Jordan made six of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter while being intentionally being fouled and nine of 24 in that scenario for the game. It didn't stop Jordan from finishing with 26 points and 18 rebounds, falling just short of a third consecutive 20-20 game.
“That fouling thing is like a sign of respect,” Paul said. “That's one of the only ways you can stop him, or try to. He didn't let it faze him. He kept playing, kept rebounding.”
Jordan made 10 of 28 free throws in the game, including ones in which he was not intentionally fouled.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers took Jordan out of the game with 4:26 left and L.A. leading, 105-101, replacing Jordan with Matt Barnes. Jordan reentered with less than two minutes left, when the Spurs could no longer intentionally foul him without giving the Clippers two free throws and the ball.
“When I get to my phone I'll have 30 texts, ‘Why do you allow this in your game?'” said Rivers, who is a member of the NBA's competition committee that considers rules changes but said the intentional fouling strategy did not bother him.
Shooting guard Jamal Crawford scored 26 points for the Clippers, including a corner three-pointer that gave them a four-point lead with 32.7 seconds left. It was an especially gratifying performance considering Crawford had spent much of the previous week as the subject of trade rumors.
Paul finished with 22 points and 16 assists for the Clippers, who seemed adequately rested after their weeklong All-Star break.
Whether it was Barnes hurdling the scorer's table while chasing the ball, Glen Davis exhorting the crowd or Jordan leaping over Belinelli for a fastbreak dunk, the Clippers never lacked energy.
Tim Duncan had 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs (34-20), who fell 21/2 games behind the Clippers (36-19) in the Western Conference standings.
San Antonio started intentionally fouling Jordan late in the second quarter, and the move largely worked. Jordan made three of 10 free throws in that scenario, allowing the Spurs to go from one point down to four points up.
The Clippers were missing backup point guard Austin Rivers, who was sidelined by a sore left ankle, forcing Crawford to play the position when Paul was off the court. Rivers tweeted that he would be back for the Clippers' game against Sacramento on Saturday.
Jordan scored 12 points in the third quarter to help the Clippers go from nine points down to two up.