They might be wishing for some healthy players this Christmas.
Without stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers surprised the San Antonio Spurs for the second time this season, 106-101, on Thursday night at Staples Center.
Paul started the game, but left in the third quarter with a left hamstring strain and did not return to the court for the final frame.
"I saw it right when it happened, and we got him out right away," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said of the injury. "Right now, I'm concerned about everybody's health. He's day to day, we'll just have to wait and see."
Despite playing just 23 minutes, Paul led the team in points with 19, and had seven rebounds, six assists and two steals, but it was the second unit that closed out the game for the Clippers.
The L.A. reserves outscored the Spurs 58-33 in the game thanks to 14 points in a team-high 29 minutes for Mo Speights. Backup point guard Raymond Felton chipped in 13 points in Paul's absence.
"That shows the confidence we have in our bench," added Rivers. "We just left them out on the floor against their starters. We kept telling Raymond [Felton] to get to the basket. He's been a great veteran for us."
Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 27 points, and also had the most rebounds for the Spurs with nine.
"It's a long season. We will get it together as long as we keep competing, having our motivation and the mind set to try and win the game," said Leonard from his locker. "It doesn't just happen right away, you have to sustain that mindset and have it carry over."
Former Laker Pau Gasol added 21 points to go with seven rebounds in a losing effort.
"You have to give them credit," said Gasol. "Their bench stepped in and played well and got going and they all contributed. We were not very sharp and we waited until the second half to get into it and finally complete with more aggressiveness and physicality."
The Clippers jumped out to a double-digit lead in the second quarter and never looked back. They led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, without Paul on the court for the majority of the second half.
"I was watching the game from the back and I said, 'I guess they don't need me,'" joked Paul about why he didn't try and return for the fourth quarter. "Hopefully, I'll be back tomorrow."
Los Angeles' defense held the Spurrs to just 38.5 percent shooting in the first half and 31.6 percent from the three-point line in the game.
"They were better than us," said San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich, a man of little words. "Is that what you want me to say?"
Entering the game, the Spurs were 15-1 on the road, as their lopsided loss in LaLa Land was just the second defeat away from home all year.
This is the second time this season that the Clippers defeated the Spurs, as they beat them soundly 116-92 in San Antonio early in November.
great team win. 2nd unit was huuuuuge. let's keep it rolling! — Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) December 23, 2016
Players of the Game:
Chris Paul: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists.
Kawhi Leonard: 27 points, 9 rebounds
1. Punching his 'Big Ticket': Chris Paul passed Kevin Garnett for 16th on the NBA's All-Time Steals leaders and is one shy of Isiah Thomas.
2. Gimpy Hamstring: Chris Paul left the game in the third quarter with a left hamstring strain and did not return to the game.
Chris Paul is questionable to return with a left hamstring strain. Clippers obviously have no bandwidth for another injury like this — Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) December 23, 2016
3. He Puts the 'Pau' in 'Poster': DeAndre Jordan put former Laker Pau Gasol on a poster when he threw down a thunderous dunk on the Spurs center.
Spurs (23-6): The team with the second best record in the NBA will head to Portland for a matchup with the Blazers on Friday night.
Clippers (22-8): Lob City will host the lowly Dallas Mavericks on Friday night at Staples Center.
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