Clippers hope to build upon recent run vs. road-weary Spurs

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After a recent solid run of games, the Los Angeles Clippers will try to stay consistent when they host the struggling San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

The Clippers have won two of their past three games and four of their last six, with the most recent a come-from-behind 96-91 victory at home over Detroit on Thursday. Reggie Jackson led Los Angeles with 23 points in the win, with Marcus Morris Sr. and Paul George adding 16 apiece, Norman Powell scoring 14 and Ivica Zubac tying a career high with 18 rebounds.

It was the first time since Oct. 30 — a stretch of nine games — that George was not the team’s leading scorer.

Most importantly for the Clippers, five-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard was back on the court after missing 12 games. Leonard started for the first time this season and played in just his third game (his first since Oct. 23), scoring six points in 25 minutes.

“(Leonard) looked pretty good as far as his movement,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “With him on the floor we’re a different team. It gives us a sense of calmness when he has the ball in his hand.”

The Clippers trailed by three points with under 10 minutes to play on Thursday before uncorking a 17-6 run that was capped by Leonard’s driving layup with 4:04 remaining. That gave Los Angeles plenty to get to the finish line.

The Spurs head into Los Angeles dragging the baggage of a three-game losing streak that includes a 130-112 defeat in Sacramento on Thursday. The contest against the Kings was San Antonio’s third in a four-day stretch, all on the road, with losses to the Warriors and Trail Blazers preluding Thursday’s setback.

Devin Vassell led all scorers with 29 points for the Spurs, with Keita Bates-Diop scoring 16 points, Tre Jones adding 15, Jeremy Sochan and Isaiah Roby hitting for 11 apiece and Jakob Poeltl tallying 10 points. San Antonio never led in the game and lost despite shooting 54.8 percent from the floor.

The Spurs played without leading scorer Keldon Johnson, who was ruled out of Thursday’s game just before tipoff with an ankle injury. Doug McDermott also missed the game because of left calf tightness.

San Antonio roared back from 16 points down to tie Thursday’s game three times in the third quarter before Sacramento scored 11 straight points in a run that began late in the period and stretched into the first minute of the fourth. The Spurs never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

“I thought we did great. I was really proud,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the win. “They did a hell of a job. All-in-all the execution, the competitiveness was great by a bunch of guys that haven’t been around for very long. They gave everything they had. We got better tonight.”

The Spurs have won just once in their past nine games and are a season-worst four games under .500. And there’s little rest for the weary, as Saturday’s game is the fourth of a five-game road trip and the first of a back-to-back against the two Los Angeles teams.

–Field Level Media

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