A game that featured the two best point guards in the NBA was supposed to be a thriller for Western Conference supremacy, but the San Antonio Spurs sent a loud and clear message to the rest of the league with a 26-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The win was the Spurs’ 16th in their last 17 games and they’re now 6-1 in their current nine-game Rodeo Trip. In short, the Spurs are just doing what they’ve always done.
Chris Paul was the center of attention after his NBA All-Star Game MVP performance and everyone started saying he could give LeBron James a run for his money in the regular season MVP race. That all changed Thursday night because Paul’s one-on-one play against Tony Parker was pathetic. Parker beat him to the hole off the dribble, roasted him on backdoor cuts to the basket and held Paul to a measly four points and three assists. It wasn’t even close between the two teams or the two premier point guards.
Still, everyone is just kind of shrugging it off today. Parker had 31 points and seven dimes, but the attention is now squarely back to James. Parker is getting no love in the MVP discussion and the Spurs are still getting no love in the title debates, but that’s perfectly fine because that’s the way they like it.
The Spurs don’t have any flashy players like the other elite teams in the NBA. Parker is the closest thing to that, but he’ll never get the attention he deserves because he plays for the “boring team.” The Spurs may be boring, but the whoopin’ they put on the Clippers is a message the other teams heard loud and clear: San Antonio is in it to win it this year.
What’s different than last year, you ask? Well, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is proving that an old dog can learn new tricks as he’s beginning to trust his younger, up-and-coming stars in critical situations. It’s been sophomore standout Kawhi Leonard who has come up big in crunch time this year, with or without the Big Three on the floor; he hit the game-winning shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers last week with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Parker all on the floor. As good as the Spurs were last year, they’re more well-rounded now and that will serve them well come playoff time when their stars–especially Duncan and Ginobili–have been rusty in recent years. If the domination of the Clippers in LA was any indication, the Spurs are on a mission this year and they’re just fine with everyone blowing them off…for now.