Clippers stay in the fight, rally to beat Spurs and keep their playoff hopes alive


The Clippers have been climbing the hill for so much of this season, seemingly always scaling it short-handed and finally concluding they might be able to reach the top if they could only win their remaining five regular-season games.

As fate would have it, the Clippers had to climb another hill, this one with the weight of a 19-point deficit on their backs.

They pulled themselves all the way back for a thrilling 113-110 Clippers victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night at Staples Center before 17,499 fans.


“It’s hard to explain any of our [games],” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I just thought we hung in there.”

The Clippers gained some ground in the Western Conference with this win.

The Clippers remained in 10th place, but are now 1½ games behind the eighth-place New Orleans Pelicans and two games behind the seventh-place Minnesota Timberwolves.

But the Clippers are one game behind the ninth-place Denver Nuggets.

“I tell our guys that all the time, just keep plugging,” Rivers said.

Clippers center Boban Marjanovic spins to the basket against Spurs guard Danny Green in the second quarter.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )

Clippers forward Monrezl Harrell bulls his way to the basket against Spurs forward Rudy Gay in the second quarter.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )

Boban Marjanovic, Lou Williams, Tyrone Wallace, Austin Rivers and Montrezl Harrell were the sparks for the Clippers.

They were responsible for the Clippers coming back from the big hole in the second quarter to tie the score at 91-91 on a three-point play by Williams (22 points) with 6:41 left.

The Clippers got down by seven points later in the quarter, but tied the score at 103-103 on a basket by Williams to make it a game.

Then with 55.7 seconds left and the Clippers down 105-104, they called a timeout to set up a play.

Williams provided some more fourth-quarter magic for the Clippers, scoring on a fade-away for a 106-105 Clippers lead.

But the Spurs answered with a three-pointer by Patty Mills for a 108-106 lead with 37.5 seconds left.

Clippers forward Tobias Harris gets fouled by Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge on the way to the basket in the first quarter.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )
Clippers forward Tobias Harris fights his way to the basket against Spurs guard Patty Mills in the second quarter.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )

Now it was time for the Clippers to answer right back, and they did when Williams found Rivers for a three-pointer for a 109-108 Clippers lead with 29.6 seconds left.

“Lou made a game-winning pass,” Doc Rivers said.

The Clippers got the defensive stop they needed when DeAndre Jordan stepped out on Mills and forced him to miss a shot.

But the referees had to review the play to determine the ball indeed belonged to the Clippers.

It did and it led to two free throws by Williams that he made for a 111-108 Clippers lead with 4.6 seconds left.

The game then turned into a free-throw shooting contest, finally ending with Tobias Harris (31 points) making two free throws for a 113-110 Clippers lead with 2.9 seconds left that made the difference in this much-needed win for the Clippers.

Before the Clippers got down early and big in this game, they learned before the game that starting forward Danilo Gallinari wasn’t playing because of a sore right hand and that reserve rookie point guard Jawun Evans was having surgery Thursday for a sports hernia and would be out for the rest of the season.

So now the Clippers not only had to play short on bodies, they had to dig out of hole they were in at the start of the first.

They trailed 17-3 to open the first quarter and saw the deficit increase to 49-30 in the second quarter.

The Clippers had more turnovers (seven) than made field goals (six) in the first quarter.

But the Clippers found their missing spark later in the second quarter, playing with much more energy and desire.

That resulted in the Clippers pulling to within 56-49 at the half.

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner