John Wall spurs Clippers’ second-half comeback over San Antonio

For eight minutes, the Clippers played like the team that left training camp and openly proclaimed its championship aspirations – their long-armed defenders forcing back-to-back stops on one side, their litany of shooters shattering a lead with ruthless efficiency on the other.

In the last 40 minutes, however, they looked like the team they actually were since the start of the season – uneven, uncomfortable, unexpectedly without a key player and unable to hold a lead.

It was San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich who playfully hinted in September that his team – widely expected to be among the teams playing for No. 1 ahead of a draft with French phenomenon Victor Wembanyama – might not the best Las Vegas is betting on a championship season. But after nine games, the Clippers’ preseason expectation of being one of the West’s top contenders continues to look shaky.

But in the third quarter, the Clippers trailed by 10 points and stretched their winning streak to three games in a 113-106 win, summoning clutch plays rather than collapsing, with John Wall two nights after the veteran guard played a minimal role , was in the center.

With guard Luke Kennard joining Paul George, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr. and Ivica Zubac in the starting lineup for the second game in a row, the Clippers (5-4) quickly fell 6-2 behind, only to lose in the next Game 23 goals to score 25 points, 16 of which went unanswered at once as Spurs’ goalless streak lasted four minutes.

Coach Tyronn Lue stayed with his starters from Spurs’ second time-out, but the magic quickly faded and completely shifted as Lue turned his attention to his bench. Each reserve produced a negative plus-minus in the first half – including a 16-point excess in Norman Powell’s 14 minutes – as Spurs rushed back at half-time to take a four lead. At one point, Morris and Spurs forward Zach Collins began shoving and shoving each other after a foul Collins struggled with and both were technically issued, but it did little to liven up the Clippers, who were once again shorthanded .

As Kennard went into the dressing room after the first quarter, Powell took his place with the starting lineup that ended the first half and opened the second so unevenly that Lue called a timeout within the first 2:08 of the third quarter. Kennard did not return due to chest discomfort.

By the middle of the third quarter, San Antonio’s lead grew to 10.

After hitting a low of the season Wednesday in Houston after being benched for the final nine minutes, Wall played unevenly in the first half, his jump shot continued to fail — and kept shooting even as the Spurs went under screens. not afraid to allow him to shoot from the midrange.

Yet Wall excelled during a second-half comeback, his actions leading directly to points on four consecutive possessions to put the Clippers 94-93 ahead early in the fourth quarter.

Wall, making just 33% of his catch-and-shoot attempts on Friday, took a pass from Reggie Jackson and waved a wing three-pointer, then used his speed to burst into the paint to center Ivica Zubac and a transition layup. After a timeout from San Antonio, Wall scored on another layup.

Just as Lue had played the entire fourth quarter against Powell two days earlier in Houston because he felt Powell was playing best, Lue stayed with Wall after entering him midway through the fourth quarter.

Ahead of the tip, there was good news for the Clippers as forward Robert Covington is no longer on the health and safety records, meaning he will likely be available for Sunday’s home game against Utah.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/clippers/story/2022-11-04/john-wall-spurs-clippers-paul-george-nba John Wall spurs Clippers’ second-half comeback over San Antonio

Emma Bowman

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