Clippers FYI: Spurs' experience showed down in the clutch

Clippers FYI: Spurs' experience showed down in the clutch
San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard steals the ball away from Blake Griffin during the Spurs' 89-85 win over the Clippers on Nov. 10 at Staples Center. (Paul Buck / EPA)

The final score Monday was San Antonio 89, Clippers 85.

The Finals score was Spurs 29, Clippers 0.


That was the discrepancy in NBA Finals games played by the San Antonio trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili versus Clippers counterparts Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, and it showed over the final six minutes of the Spurs' come-from-behind victory.

San Antonio remained composed in a taut game and the Clippers … well, they sure did try hard.

"We just didn't function well down the stretch," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said afterward in what may have been the understatement of the early season.

The Clippers failed to score on nine of their last 10 possessions, their only points coming on three Jamal Crawford free throws. Meanwhile, the Spurs went on a 12-0 run to surge ahead during a game they trailed from early in the first quarter until a layup by Kawhi Leonard gave them an 83-82 lead with 1:44 remaining.

"Down the stretch, they made big shots," Rivers said. "One thing I thought they did that we didn't, I thought they really trusted the pass down the stretch. I thought we trusted the pass for about 42 minutes and I thought the last six minutes we didn't anymore. But I thought they did a terrific job of it."

The Clippers made one silly pass in particular, a needless Griffin alley-oop feed intercepted by San Antonio's Boris Diaw. Then Leonard reached out to make a fingertip steal while Paul was dribbling near midcourt, leading to a layup by Ginobili that gave the Spurs a five-point cushion.

"I relaxed with the ball," Paul said, "Kawhi Leonard made an unbelievable steal right there at half court and that was a heads-up play and a big mistake on my part."

Paul still had a chance to tie the score in the final seconds, his contested driving layup missing and his signaling for a timeout with 1.4 seconds left and Griffin clutching the ball not helping matters considering the Clippers had no more timeouts.

The Clippers took Tuesday off, part of a two-day break. They are scheduled to resume practice Thursday and play their next game Saturday against Phoenix at Staples Center.

Next challenge

Rivers has his to-do list before his team faces the Suns.

"I just want to work on our execution on both ends," Rivers said. "I think we're running plays, but we're not executing plays. We're running our defense but we're not crisp, we're not there every time."

Conversely, the Spurs seem to have an innate ability to get things right in important moments.

"They've had people in the system for a long time. They just know how to play," Paul said. "It seems like they've been together for a lot longer than probably they have, but that's why they're the defending champs."


Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch