LOS ANGELES – and Tyronn Lue spoke of being disappointed before this Play.
Everything was a struggle for their Clippers on Monday, when they made their final game at Staples Center as the Staples Center (it will officially be the Crypto.com Arena when the Clippers host Denver on December 26). .
The 116–92 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs (12–18) spoiled the nature of the pre-Christmas festivities before the return of All-Star Paul George and a full home of 18,096.
The Clippers welcomed George and Serge Ibaka to the lineup on Monday, both of whom played their first game since December 6. George was sidelined by a right elbow sprain, Ibaka as Lew devoted all his backup center minutes to Isaiah Hartenstein, leaving veteran Ibaka as the awkward big man.
George, sporting a hair cut reminiscent of his pre-Clippers season, finished with 25 points (on his season average) shooting 8-for-18 in 31 minutes. Ibaka finished 21 minutes off the bench with four points and eight rebounds.
The Clippers went 3-2 without George, but they came on Monday after two consecutive losses.
And yet they remain short-handed at Spurs without Marcus Morris Sr., who entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Saturday, scoring at least 20 points in five of his last seven matches.
He also remembered Harttenstein, who suffered a late left ankle sprain following Saturday’s loss to the Clippers in Oklahoma City. And star wing Kawhi Leonard (ACL) and rookie guard Jason Preston (Ft) have yet to play this season.
Lew, who often preaches adaptability, admitted before Monday’s game that it has been a disappointment to have so many players in and out of the lineup this season.
“You can’t get the rhythm of how we want to play with all of our guys here,” Lew said. “But everyone is dealing with the same thing … it’s what talks about being able to adapt over the past two years and we’ve done that, but it’s disappointing.”
The Clippers were out all the way against DeJonte Murray and the crew.
The young Spurs star had a 24-point triple-double (13 assists, 12 rebounds) to move all five starters into double figure, as San Antonio took a relatively lukewarm 43.9% off the field and a 3-point range. From 32.4% had shot. The visitors dominated the Clippers (16–15) on the board, 67–43 (including 23–9 on the offensive glass, the most Lew’s squad has allowed this season), and a decider in second-chance points (27). ended with a profit. -5).
The Spurs also punished the Clippers in the paint, 68–44, and converted the Clippers’ 14 turnovers to 12 points. Meanwhile, the Clippers scored only three points out of 12 giveaways from the Spurs.
It wasn’t at all the bounceback the Clippers demanded after a heartbreaking loss to the Thunder on Saturday’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Shai Gilgius-Alexander.
Instead, it was San Antonio who came back strongly after Sunday’s 121-114 loss in Sacramento, playing in the second game of back-to-back matches on Monday.
The Spurs led 62-48 at halftime, when Murray had 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including all three of his three-point attempts. He also had five rebounds and six assists before halftime.
George went into the break with 12 points in 16 minutes and Jackson had 10 for the Clippers, who scored just 39.6% and were dismissed 36-25 in the first half.
After outscoring the Clippers 30-17 in the third quarter, San Antonio’s lead expanded to 27 and entered the fourth quarter.
Ivica Zuback finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, Terrence Mann scored 11 and Reggie Jackson scored 10 points in 20 minutes shooting 4-for-12.
Jacob Poelt added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Spurs, while Doug McDermott scored 16 points.
There is much more to come on this story.