Spurs 111, Clippers 82

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SAN ANTONIO (AP)—Maybe Manu Ginobili should always come off the bench.

For that matter, maybe Tony Parker should stick to passing instead of shooting—at least for the first half.

The two San Antonio players had stellar performances Friday night as the Spurs beat the Los Angeles Clippers 111-82.

Parker had a career-high 15 assists, besting his previous record of 14, which also came against the Clippers in December 2003.

Ginobili had 22 points in fewer than 20 minutes.

Parker was scoreless in the first half, missing both his shots while focusing on getting the ball to teammates. All nine of his points came in the third quarter.

“They (the Clippers) were kind of forcing me to pass it because they never really left me open,” Parker said. “My teammates kept making shots, so I decided to keep passing the ball.”

Parker had been averaging 19 points and just over five assists a game.

“We just happened to have a great night and it was sparked by Tony Parker,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I think he set the table for our team really well. … He got everybody involved.”

As for Ginobili, the usual starter came in off the bench halfway through the first quarter as he continues to get back into playing shape. Ginobili was out for several games with a lower back contusion.

“He’s starting to feel more confident with his rhythm and body. I wish he would have played a little longer to get into shape,” Popovich said.

Ginobili had been averaging just over 13 points in almost 28 minutes a game this season. And he didn’t seem worried about being a reserve.

“I don’t know when it’s going to change, but we’re doing great,” he said.

Tim Duncan and Brent Barry each added 16 points and Michael Finley had 13 for the Spurs. Francisco Elson finished with 11. Duncan also had 10 rebounds.

Shaun Livingston scored 16 points for the Clippers, the NBA’s only winless road team at 0-7. Corey Maggette scored 12, Chris Kaman had 11 and Elton Brand added 10.

Both Ginobili and Livingston went 8-of-11 from the field.

“They’re just a better team than us right now and it showed tonight,” Livingston said. “I think right now we’re still finding ourselves.”

The Spurs went 10-of-24 on 3-pointers. The Clippers took only four shots from behind the arc, making two.

“We got outworked,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Defensively, we gave up too many high-percentage shots to them.”

The Spurs took a 33-22 lead into the second. Ginobili came off the bench with 6:31 left in the first and immediately made a bucket for San Antonio, then followed with a 3-pointer. He had eight in the period.

The Spurs upped their lead in the second quarter with the help of seven assists from Parker and all of Barry’s first-half points. Barry was 3-of-3 from both the field and the foul line, for 11 points.

San Antonio was ahead 65-43 at the break.

Parker had 12 assists in the half, including a pass to Elson for a dunk that was part of a 12-2 San Antonio run.

Ginobili and Duncan had 12 points apiece for the half. The Clippers were led by Livingston, who shot 5-of-6 from the field, with 10.

Ginobili didn’t miss in the fourth and scored seven points in a row before Popovich took him out for the night.

The Spurs’ 90-59 lead going into the final 12 minutes allowed Popovich to give floor time to his reserves, including Beno Udrih, who had eight points Friday.

The Spurs improved to 15-5 and the Clippers fell to 9-9. But the Clippers will get another shot at San Antonio on Monday in California, where Popovich said he expects a more competitive matchup.

“If we want to win, we’ve got to play the right way and do the right thing,” Maggette said. “If we don’t, we’ll be the same old Clippers.”

Notes

The Clippers were tied with the Spurs at 2, but never had a lead. … The Spurs’ biggest lead was 37. … The Spurs have won eight straight home meetings with the Clippers. … Clippers G Sam Cassell came into the game off the bench with just under four minutes left in the first quarter. … Finley started in place of Ginobili. … Tim Thomas of the Clippers bruised his right hand. X-rays were negative.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 LA Clippers
S. Livingston S. Livingston
8-11,  16 Pts
5 Rebs, 3 Assists
 San Antonio
M. Ginobili M. Ginobili
8-11,  22 Pts
6 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

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Rebounds
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Friday, Dec 8