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By Mitch Chortkoff
Sports Editor 

Clippers Can't Match Spurs' Reserves In Game 5 Loss

 

April 27, 2015



By Mitch Chortkoff

Sports Editor

The Clippers were dazzling in the first quarter of Game 5 Tuesday night.

They raced to a 28-13 lead over the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center

The Clippers have the reputation of possessing the best starting five in the NBA and were living up to the reputation.

Then Coach Doc Rivers inserted three substitutes and the Spurs scored the next 16 points.

From there the teams engaged in a dramatic, thrilling game that the Spurs won, 111-107.

So I knew what I’d be writing about.

Unfortunately, the Clippers’ reserves have had a hard time most of this season. And that leaves one of the NBA’s best coaches with a dilemma.

I’ve suggested Rivers play the starters significantly more minutes in games as important as a playoff series against n outstanding opponent.

He has countered with an entirely logical response. He doesn’t want the reserves to believe he doesn’t have confidence in them.

After all, you can’t go through the playoffs without help for the starters. He’s going to need Jamal Crawford, who’s excellent but also Big Baby Davis and Austin Rivers, Doc’s son. Doc’s one concession to his dilemma is to remove Spencer Hawes from the rotation.

The Clippers signed Hawes to a four-year contract after he had a good season In Philadelphia but he hasn’t played well and hasn’t gotten off the bench in the last two games.

On Sunday, when the Clippers beat the Spurs in San Antonio, the reserves had their best game of the season. Crawford was very good, Rivers scored 16 points in 17 minutes and Davis played strong defense on Tim Duncan.

But this time it was like it’s been too often this season for this group.

So the teams were locked in a classic struggle right to the finish. In fact, the Clippers would have won if a tip-in dunk by center DeAndre Jordan in the final second hadn’t been ruled goal-tending, a call I believe was the correct one.

Or they probably would have won if Blake Griffin, who scored 30 points, had done better than one-for-nine shooting, good for just two points in the fourth quarter.

Or if the Clippers hadn’t been one-for 14 on three-point shots. Or if the Spurs’ reserves hadn’t scored twice as many points as the Clippers’ reserves.

However, the loss left the Clippers behind in the series, three games to two, going into Game 6 Thursday night in San Antonio.

The Spurs have the reputation of staying calm in the closing minutes of important games. The reputation is well earned.

“Near the end got every loose ball,’ said Rivers. “And we got some rough calls although that wasn’t the reason we lost.”

Jordan called his attempt at a dunk “a dumb play,” as Griffin’s shot might have gone in.

What a series it has been with the Spurs winning twice here and the Clippers winning once in San Antonio.

A series of memorable plays and heartbreak.

Bosmat Eynav contributed to this article

 

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