Native son Jordan Clarkson captured the first win in San Antonio of his young pro basketball career on Wednesday night, as the Spurs fell to the Lakers, 95-102. The victory was bittersweet for Clarkson who scored 17 points and pulled down 6 rebounds, before a collision with David Lee forced him to leave the game with a knee contusion. Spurs guards Danny Green and Manu Ginobili sat out the contest with injuries of their own in a sloppy game where San Antonio trailed by as many as 26 points, before a late rally.
“It’s the NBA and the other team wants to make a point,” Coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after the game. “They want to win. They want to look good. Everybody wants contracts and everybody wants to be on teams so I thought they played really hard. They came in here to try to win a game and they did.”
Following Tuesday night’s overtime victory against the Grizzlies, Coach Pop elected to rely on his reserves for most of the game with Jonathon Simmons and Kyle Anderson getting extended runs.
For two teams that defined the NBA in the previous decade, the Lakers upset was an unexpected callback to a once great rivalry, also serving as a reminder us just how far Los Angeles has fallen off. In a season defined by family drama in the front office and machinations towards the draft lottery, Wednesday night represented a quality win for Clarkson’s Lakers.
Next up for the Spurs is a Friday night showdown in Dallas against another rival that has fallen on hard times. Despite being eliminated from playoff contention, the Mavericks remain a formidable opponent. Having secured 60 wins in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history and a virtual lock at the #2 seed in the West, health is a key priority for Pop’s charges at the post-season approaches.
“Just try to keep your rhythm,” said Pau Gasol. “Not to over-fatigue yourself in the next few games but at the same time, don’t lose that shape, and the rhythm, and that edge going into the playoffs.”