DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Los Angeles Clippers is fouled by Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on an attempted dunk at Staples Center on February 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, California Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES – A week long lay off might have been just what the Doc ordered for the Clippers. Playing without their All-Star power forward Blake Griffin, Los Angeles hung on to beat the San Antonio Spurs 119-115 thanks to some clutch play down the stretch by Chris Paul.

Paul had 22 points and 16 assists including the game-clinching basket with 8 seconds left to play. DeAndre Jordan had 26 points and 18 rebounds but shot a paltry 10 for 28 from the free throw line.

“Chris was huge tonight with those two field goals down the stretch,” said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. “He also had a great pass. He trusted the pass, more importantly. I love plays when your key guy gives up the ball to another teammate who makes the big shot. That was my favorite play down the stretch.”

Jamal Crawford made that big shot and finished with 26 points. Crawford and Glen “Big Baby” Davis sparked the Clips off the bench with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and one crucial block.

“Whatever it takes to win I gotta do it,” said Davis after the game. “Loose balls, picking people up, whatever it is to get it done, I’m that guy. I’m the blue-collar guy. I’m the janitor. I’m sweeping everything up.”

More important than the game itself was the significance it had on the Western Conference playoff picture. Going into the game, the Clippers had a ½ game lead over the Spurs for the 6th spot in the West. With the win, the Clippers leap frog the Dallas Mavericks who lost earlier in the night.

The Clippers now are in sole possession of 5th place in the conference and are just 1-½ games out of third place, which is occupied by both the Houston Rockets and the Portland Trailblazers.

The thrilling game had 20 different lead changes with San Antonio leading by as many as 9 points in the third quarter. The Clippers used a 14-2 run in the third to take the lead 79-76. Jordan punctuated the run with a thunderous throw down that had everyone at Staples Center standing in their seats.

“He has been showcasing his ability all year,” said Rivers of Jordan. “People may be noticing it more now. He has been terrific. We would not have the same record if DeAndre was not on the team.”

With 7:00 minutes left in the 4th quarter Spurs coach Gregg Popovich resorted to the “Hack-A-DJ” strategy. Jordan shot 14 free throws over the span, only making 5 of them before Doc Rivers eventually had no choice but to take him out of the game. In all, the Clippers shot a season-high 52 free throws.

“It’s a part of basketball,” said Tim Duncan of the Spurs strategy. “If he [DeAndre Jordan] starts shooting better, people will stop doing it. But until then, it’s a basketball strategy.”

Jordan spoke with Duncan about the strategy during the game and understands that it is something that many teams will do to him for the remainder of the season.

“It is something that teams are going to use as a strategy to slow us down and to me mentally frustrated,” he said. “But over the years, it has become something that I have gotten used to. As long as we are getting stops and making them [free throws], it doesn’t really matter.”

San Antonio’s “Big Three” of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for 61 points with Duncan chipping in 30 of them. The future hall of famer also had 11 rebounds and shot an efficient 12-14 from the field. Parker had 21 points and 13 assists.

“We have to play better defense,” said Parker of the team’s performance. “Less mistakes- there were a lot of mental mistakes in tonight’s game.”

It was the final game of the season between the two foes. San Antonio had won four consecutive games against the Clippers before Los Angeles defeated the Spurs 105-85 at the AT&T Center on January 31st.

Game Notes:
Doc Rivers son, Austin did not play in the game due to an ankle injury. The Clippers are now 3-1 without Griffin in the lineup.

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