Spurs @ Clippers Preview: 2/21/13
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Tony Parker carried his hot streak into the second half and has the San Antonio Spurs playing at a high level, but that hasn't been the case when he's faced Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Paul will try to build on his All-Star MVP performance for the Pacific Division leaders when two of the NBA's top point guards meet Thursday night in Los Angeles.
Parker, the Spurs' leading scorer with 21.0 points per game, is having one of his best stretches of the season, averaging 29.0 points and 9.0 assists in his last five games.
Aside from finishing with a season high-tying seven turnovers, Parker showed no signs of rust following the break with 30 points and 11 assists in a 108-102 victory at Sacramento on Tuesday.
"He picked up where he left off before the All-Star break," coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's having an unbelievable year. He just keeps doing it."
Parker, however, hasn't fared as well against the Clippers. He had a season-low four points on 2-of-7 shooting in a 106-84 loss at Staples Center on Nov. 7, and scored 11 in a 92-87 home defeat Nov. 19.
Parker also shot just 36.1 percent while averaging 17.3 points in the four-game sweep of the Clippers in the second round of last season's playoffs.
Paul scored 12.8 per game on 36.8 percent shooting in that series, but he's been playing well recently after missing nine straight games with a bruised right kneecap. He averaged 20.0 points while shooting 60.0 percent in his last four games before the break, and finished with 20 and 15 assists to win the All-Star MVP honors Sunday in Houston.
"It's something that I've never done," Paul told the team's official website following the Western Conference's 143-138 win. "It's something that I definitely didn't come into the game trying to achieve or think would even be possible."
Paul will try to bring that momentum into the second half, starting with this meeting between clubs with title aspirations. He led the way with 19 points and eight assists Nov. 19 to give the Clippers three straight regular-season wins in this series.
Los Angeles (39-17) rolled into the break with four consecutive victories by an average of 16.2 points, and it sits third in the West behind San Antonio (43-12) and Oklahoma City.
Blake Griffin has done most of his damage at home against the Spurs. The All-Star forward has averaged 24.8 points and 12.8 rebounds in the past five meetings in Los Angeles, including last postseason.
The Clippers are averaging 110.0 points while hitting 52.7 percent from the field during their four-game win streak. They'll also look to gain an advantage on the glass after outrebounding San Antonio 98-71 in the first two meetings.
With eight wins in their last nine away from home, the Spurs have the NBA's best road mark at 21-10. They've also won four straight and 15 of 16 overall en route to the league's top record.
Kawhi Leonard has given the Spurs a spark lately, averaging 15.8 points in his last eight games -- 5.2 more than his season mark.
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