Spurs 88, Clippers 74
LOS ANGELES (AP)—The San Antonio Spurs are doing it with defense.
For the third consecutive game, the Spurs held their opponents to 74 points, this time in an 88-74 victory Monday night over the Los Angeles Clippers to extend their season-high winning streak to nine games.
The San Antonio reserves provided the majority of the offense, with Manu Ginobili and Beno Udrih combining for 30 points and pulling down eight rebounds each. Michael Finley added 10 points as the players off the bench outscored the Spurs’ starters 49-39.
The Clippers, led by Corey Maggette’s 19 points, trailed all the way and were held to 38 percent shooting as they matched their season low in points.
Tim Duncan, who had 12 rebounds and nine points in the win, said the Spurs have started to play well at the right time.
“We’ve still got a bunch of games to finish this season, but the streak we’re on right now is the way we want to play and the way we want to end out this season,” Duncan said. “Defensively, we’ve been solid and we’re moving the ball real well.
“We’re giving up less offensive rebounds and we’re keeping opponents’ shooting percentage down. And that’s been the difference. We’re getting some good play from our bench. Guys understand their roles, and defensively we’re staying solid no matter who’s on the floor.”
Ginobili, who scored 16 points, noted the Spurs can’t get complacent.
“We don’t want to get so cocky or so happy about the way we’re playing. We really struggled a month ago, so we don’t want to go back there,” he said. “We know we’re in a good stretch, but we’ve just got to be humble and keep working, knowing that we’re still far away from Dallas and Phoenix and other teams that we want to catch.”
The Spurs are 24 games over .500 (42-18), yet still trail the Southwest Division-leading Mavericks by 8 1/2 games. They would be in first place in four of the other five divisions.
“We know Dallas is having an unbelievable season,” Ginobili said. “We’ve just got to give them credit and try to get better in these next 20 games to have an opportunity to beat them in the playoffs.”
The Spurs won handily for the third time in as many games against the Clippers this season, and they did it without Tony Parker, their second-leading scorer with an 18.7 average. Parker missed his second consecutive game because of a strained left hip.
San Antonio’s victory was its 12th in the last 13 games against the Clippers, including winning the first two meetings this season by 29 and 22 points.
“Their rotations are solid. They are a veteran club who know where to be on the court to give them the best chance of stopping the play,” said the Clippers’ Elton Brand, who had 15 points and eight rebounds.
Added Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy: “They aren’t going to give you many good looks because they defend well, but when you get them you have to score, and we missed those opportunities.”
Clippers swingman Quinton Ross left with a hip pointer in the third quarter and did not return. His status is listed as day-to-day.
San Antonio led 64-49 heading into the final quarter, and the Clippers never threatened. The Spurs were up 43-34 at halftime.
Conroy signed a 10-day contract with the Clippers on Feb. 28 and appeared in two games. Asked if he had any hesitation to play Hart at any juncture of a game, Dunleavy said, “Obviously not, because we let Will go. So it’s either Hart—or me. And I think we know which way we’re going here.” … The 6-foot-3 Hart, waived by Sacramento on Thursday, averaged 3.3 points, 1.2 rebounds and 7.7 minutes a game for the Kings this season. … Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he was being cautious with Parker, making sure he was ready to go before he put him back in the lineup.