The LA Clippers had their most impressive victory of the young season in a record-setting game last night in San Antonio, defeating the Spurs by 24 points, 116 to 92, behind the continued great play of Blake Griffin and a sterling performance from Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who had by far his best game of the season. The start of the game provided little indication of what was to transpire, though, as the Spurs scored the games’ first eight points. But after that, Clippers’ defense reigned, and the offense was not far behind. Those
first eight Spurs’ points were soon followed by eight consecutive defensive stops, and a 8-0 deficit quickly became an 18-10 LA lead.
For the Spurs, who recorded a 40-1 home record last season, it was the second consecutive home loss of the 2016-2017 season, and the first time they have suffered back-to-back home loses in close to two full years. For the Clippers, it was the largest margin of victory against a Spurs team in their last 160 meetings.
How did they do it? Well the Clippers held San Antonio starters to 37% shooting (14 of 38) while Clippers’ starters shot exactly 50% on 28 of 56 shooting. Defensively, Mbah a Moute was a star, defending Kawhi Leonard who was held to three-of-13 shooting and only six points from the floor and 14 overall. Former UCLA Bruin Mbah a Moute also contributed his best offensive game of the season, hitting on five-of-nine for 13 points in
only 24 minutes on the court. Luc needs to step up like this if he is to continue getting playing time, let alone if he is to keep his starting spot, with Paul Pierce now due back from his ankle issues that date back to late last season.
Speaking of injuries, so long as the Clippers remain healthy, all should be well. The starters have played exceptionally well, as have the first three or four guys or even five off the bench, Jamal Crawford, Austin Rivers, Marreese Speights, and also at times Wesley Johnson and Raymond Felton. With ten or eleven, including Pierce, the team looks solid and pretty deep going forward, but what if they run into something like the injury plague that they suffered last season? Then they need no less than the number 12 or 13 able-bodied player who CAN play the game at the NBA level. As I wrote a few days ago, the rest of the roster is highly suspect, and offseason acquisitions Brandon Bass and Alan Anderson, the next two guys in line, would be significant longshots to be able to contribute.
Over the season’s first six games, the 5-1 Clippers have seen Bass for exactly 15 minutes of playing time. His five points, four boards and two personal fouls all occurred in one game. Anderson has yet to make an appearance. Why, even Diamond Stone has seen the court
for six whole minutes! The 19-year-old project had a real leaning experience against one of the league’s truly bad, bad teams, the Phoenix Suns, on Halloween yet, when in a Clippers’ blow-out, in four minutes on the court, Stone was zero for one shooting and committed both a foul and a turnover. But unlike Anderson, he could have a future in the NBA.