They were missing two of their top scorers, and yet the Clippers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 103-95 despite the odds being stacked against them.
They had lost five consecutive games and didn’t look so good in the process, and yet the depleted Clippers broke that string Sunday night.
They were playing on the road and against the always tough Spurs, no less, and yet the Clippers broke their losing spell with an all-out defensive showing against one of the NBA’s most efficient teams.
When the game was over, the jubilant Clippers swayed, hugged and smiled at each other on the AT&T Center court.
“It was a big game for us,” coach Doc Rivers said. “And we knew it was going to be a hard game. Even if we have everybody, it’s a hard game to win here. But we needed it. You can’t ever explain it. That’s why you lace them up. Obviously if you looked at it before the game, there were not a lot of people saying we were going to win this game. But the guys in there believed that and that’s all that counts.”
Not having do-everything forward Danilo Gallinari (back spasms) and sixth-man savant Lou Williams (sore right hamstring) represented the Clippers losing almost 40 points from their roster.
But the Clippers made up for their absence by having five players score in double figures and by holding the Spurs under 100 points.
Tobias Harris led the charge, nearly producing his first career triple-double with 27 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
He played 41 minutes 19 seconds, but Harris had help from Montrezl Harrell (18 points), Patrick Beverley (18 points, 12 rebounds, five assists), Avery Bradley (15 points) and Johnathan Motley (10 points).
“Well, we had to play like our lives were on the line,” said Harris, who was 12 of 20 from the field. “I think that was our mentality coming in from being on a losing streak.”
Beverley was inserted into the starting lineup for his defensive toughness, but he also made shots, going five of nine from the field, four of seven from three-point range.
Harrell was inserted into the starting lineup to keep bringing his usual energy, and he did by going seven of 13 from the field and four of four from the free-throw line.
“They rarely lose here,” Beverley said. “We came in and we fought. Everybody who played, played well. We did it defensively. We shared the ball. Everybody got a piece of the pie. It was fun. It was fun. See what you do when your back is against the wall. We came out swinging.”
The Clippers knew the Spurs wouldn’t go down easily when L.A. put San Antonio in a 19-point hole early in the second quarter.
But on this night, the Clippers showed resolve when that lead was cut to four points late in the second.
And when the Clippers had their 11-point lead in the third slip to five and their nine-point lead in the fourth slip to five, they stayed the course and earned a much-needed victory.