Spurs defeat Clippers 116-90 for 5th straight win
AP Saturday, February 23, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
LOS ANGELES -- The aging San Antonio Spurs came out of the All-Star break rested and raring to go.
They notched their second win since the break ended and fifth in a row, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 116-90 on Thursday night behind 31 points from Tony Parker.
"Tony's been a huge part of us playing that well. He's been the one who is most consistent," said Tim Duncan, who had nine points. "Everything kind of clicked together. We made a lot of shots. They just couldn't get their footing."
The Spurs led all the way in beating the Clippers for the first time this season and improving to an NBA-best 22-10 on the road, where they've also won five in a row.
"It was a complete butt-kicking from the start in every way you can count," Clippers coach and former Spurs player Vinny Del Negro said.
Parker had seven assists and no turnovers in 28 minutes and Danny Green added 15 points. The West-leading Spurs tied their season-best with 59-percent shooting, hit eight 3-pointers and made 22 of 28 free throws. They had lost both previous meetings with the Clippers in November.
"We're not that good and they're not that bad," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I think it's because we already played one. Too long of a layoff (for the Clippers)."
Matt Barnes scored 18 points, Blake Griffin had 17 and Jamal Crawford 15 as the Clippers' four-game winning streak ended in their first game after the break. Chris Paul, MVP in Houston last weekend with 20 points and 15 assists, was held to four points on 1-of-6 shooting and three assists.
"It's very humbling, but it happens," Griffin said. "There's going to be games where you feel like nothing's going your way, so we need to get back to what made us successful against San Antonio. We've got to have a good practice tomorrow, go over our mistakes and bounce back against Utah on Saturday."
The Clippers have lost their first game coming out of the break in nine of the last 10 years, including five in a row. They came in trailing the Spurs by 4 1/2 games for the best record in the NBA, but they never got a run going and their defense didn't do much. The biggest excitement during the game was generated by a fan who made a half-court shot during a timeout to win a new car.
"They just beat us, beat us bad," Paul said. "Luckily it wasn't a Game 7 or our last game of the season. They came out and executed. Tony was in a rocking chair all night. We just let him go wherever he wanted to, and we never really could get going offensively. It's a very humbling loss."
The Spurs led by 28 points to start the fourth quarter, when Parker and most of the other Spurs starters rested while fans hit the exits in droves. The Clippers equaled their worst loss of the season.
"It's only one game. It doesn't mean anything," Parker said. "You have to look at the big picture. We want to win a championship."
San Antonio put on a free-throw shooting clinic in the third quarter, making 16 of 20, including 12 during a 14-4 run that extended its lead to 81-53.
The Spurs shot 63 percent to lead 58-43 at halftime. Parker scored 17 points in the half, while Griffin was the only Clipper in double figures with 13 points. Paul didn't make his first basket until the final 3 minutes of the second quarter.
San Antonio made its first six shots to start the game and used a 17-4 run, including seven by Manu Ginobili, to close out the first quarter leading 34-21.
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