Spurs at Clippers
Fresh off his MVP performance in Sunday’s NBA All-Star game, Chris Paul will be trying to guide the Los Angeles Clippers to a fifth straight win when they host the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. The Clippers have had a full week off since demolishing the Los Angeles Lakers and are hoping their momentum carries through the long break. The Spurs got back to their rodeo road trip on Tuesday and have won four straight.
San Antonio has won 15 of its last 16 games to ascend to the top of the West but has had a tough time against Los Angeles in two previous meetings. The Clippers handed the Spurs their worst loss of the season 106-84 in Los Angeles on Nov. 7 and suffered a rare home loss to the Clippers 92-87 only 12 days later. Los Angeles has looked dangerous since Paul returned to full health before the break and have won by an average of 16.3 points during their four-game winning streak.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE SPURS (43-12): San Antonio is 5-1 through the first six games of its nine-game road trip and has been at its best against the better teams on the trip in double-digit victories over the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets. The Spurs showed a tendency to play down to the level of competition on the rest of the stops, including a loss at Detroit, a one-point victory at Cleveland and a 108-102 victory in Sacramento on Tuesday. All-Star Tony Parker has become an even bigger part of the offense recently and is averaging 29 points and nine assists in his last five games. Parker has scored at least 20 points in 12 of his last 13 starts to help the Spurs cover over some nagging injuries to the likes of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. All three of San Antonio’s stars should be healthy and ready to go on Thursday.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (39-17): Paul collected 20 points and 15 assists in Sunday’s All-Star game and seemed to be in complete control of a Western Conference roster that also included Parker, Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant. The All-Star point guard’s return to full health after a knee injury has been the biggest reason for Los Angeles’ latest surge. Paul had 24 points and 13 assists in last Thursday’s 125-101 drubbing of the Lakers and has averaged 10.5 assists during the four-game winning streak. The Clippers have been one of the most talked-about teams in advance of Thursday’s trade deadline but reportedly are not looking to move backup point guard Eric Bledsoe or center DeAndre Jordan - the two pieces most coveted by potential trading partners.
1. Parker has been held to a total of 15 points in the two losses to the Clippers this season.
2. Paul has averaged 19.3 points and 8.4 assists in 26 career games against San Antonio.
3. Los Angeles is 21-5 at home and has won its last three at Staples Center, including last week’s win as the road team against the Lakers.