Spurs rebound with big win over Clippers

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SAN ANTONIO -- Coming off a loss Thursday that San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich call "embarrassing," the Spurs had two days to regroup.

Saturday, they came out with one of their best performances of the season.

Center Tiago Splitter had a season high 22-points as the Spurs rolled to a 116-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

"He was great," Popovich stated on Splitter. "The entire first half he did a real good job."

Splitter shot 8 of 12 for the game in 24 minutes, but left early in the fourth quarter with a sprained right shoulder and did not return.

"He's going to get an MRI tomorrow but he will be out," Popovich said about Splitter's health. "He's got a sprained shoulder for sure. We are going to check to see if it is worse than that, but he will definitely be out."

SAN ANTONIO, (26-8) had four other players in double figures, including guards Tony Parker with 17 and Manu Ginobili with 15. Forward Kawhi Leonard added 10 and center Tim Duncan had 19 with 11 rebounds.

The Clippers played their first game without guard Chris Paul, who suffered a separated right shoulder in a 119-112 win over Dallas on Friday. He is expected to be out three to five weeks.

Guard Darren Collison, who started in Paul's place, had 14 points and six assists in 36 minutes but was strapped with foul trouble, picking up his fifth in the third quarter.

"No one has to replace Chris (Paul) in anything," said Griffin on the absence of Paul. "It'll work just fine. That would be our biggest mistake, is to try to replace him with someone or something. Everyone just has to step up and do their job."

Guard Jamal Crawford had 24 points to lead Los Angeles (23-13), while forward Blake Griffin had 19. Center DeAndre Jordan added 10 rebounds, but fouled out in the fourth.

SAN ANTONIO opened the game with a 37 point quarter by shooting 77 percent from the field. The Spurs crashed the boards, out-rebounding the Clippers 16-1 in the initial period with both Splitter and Parker getting 10 points in the quarter.

The second quarter was not much better for Los Angeles as SAN ANTONIO continued its hot shooting night and had a season high first half points. They went up 35 when Ginobili hit two free throws with four second left that gave the Spurs a 70-35 halftime lead. Splitter led all scorers with 15 at the half.

"We were really sharp from the beginning" Ginobili said on the Spurs strong early play. "The first half was fun to watch. Everybody shared the ball. "(We were) attacking, being quick, and our rotations were really sharp. It was a very good first half."

The game was a marked difference than the 23-point loss the Clippers handed the Spurs on Dec. 16 in a 115-93 win.

This time, the Spurs attacked the rim, outscoring the Clippers 76-44 in the paint. They also distributed the ball, getting 34 assists on 50 field goals.

Los Angeles, which started down 37 at the beginning of the third quarter, made a 19-2 run and by the time Crawford had nailed a half-court shot at the buzzer that made it 88-70. Despite outscoring SAN ANTONIO by 17 in the third quarter, the Clippers were still down 18.

Crawford's two free throws made it 92-79 with nine minutes in the fourth but it was the closest the Clippers would get.

"We didn't move the ball. It's amazing; probably a good lesson for us. Without CP (Paul), you're not going to dance around with the ball and make things magical happen. He has that ability; no one else does," said Clipper's coach Doc Rivers.

"But when we start moving the ball in second half, we look like a basketball team again. In the first half we looked more AAU. The ball stuck."

NOTES: Spurs F Boris Diaw was scratched before the game, out with a case of strep throat. The 11-year veteran is averaging 9.4 points a game. ... Current Clippers F Stephen Jackson, who was unexpectedly cut by SAN ANTONIO last season just before the playoffs, quietly walked over to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and hugged him before entering the game in the second quarter. ... SAN ANTONIO C Tiago Splitter has emerged as key part to the Spurs' winning formula. The Spurs are 13-0 when Splitter scores in double figures and 10-8 when he does not. ... PG Chris Paul has been a big part of the Clippers' success. Since his arrival in 2011-12, the Clippers are 10-10 with Paul out of the lineup and 109-55 when he plays. ... Clippers coach Doc Rivers quickly shot down a reported trade rumor involving New York Knicks F Carmelo Anthony and Clippers F Blake Griffin. Rivers stated pre-game on the rumored trade: "That's so stupid. We had nothing to do with that (report). Let's move on."

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