Whole again, Spurs finally overcome Clippers

CaptionCloseLOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Blake Griffin #32 of the LA Clippers scores on a layup past LaMarcus Aldridge #12 and Pau Gasol #16 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California....

Whole again, Spurs finally overcome Clippers

CaptionCloseLOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Blake Griffin #32 of the LA Clippers scores on a layup past LaMarcus Aldridge #12 and Pau Gasol #16 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California....

25 February 2017 Saturday 01:59
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Whole again, Spurs finally overcome Clippers

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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Blake Griffin #32 of the LA Clippers scores on a layup past LaMarcus Aldridge #12 and Pau Gasol #16 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Blake Griffin #32 of the LA Clippers scores on a layup past LaMarcus Aldridge #12 and Pau Gasol #16 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February

San Antonio Spurs forward David Lee, left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Marreese Speights defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

San Antonio Spurs forward David Lee, left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Marreese Speights defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs fouls Chris Paul #3 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs fouls Chris Paul #3 of the LA Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs speaks to Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs speaks to Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs reaches for a rebound during the first half against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs reaches for a rebound during the first half against the LA Clippers at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles,

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Brandon Bass #30 of the LA Clippers scores over David Lee #10 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Brandon Bass #30 of the LA Clippers scores over David Lee #10 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Marreese Speights #5 of the LA Clippers scores between Danny Green #14 and David Lee #10 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Marreese Speights #5 of the LA Clippers scores between Danny Green #14 and David Lee #10 of the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center on February 24, 2017 in

Kawhi Leonard had a decision to make. He could try to stop the freight train barreling towards him, or he could step aside and allow Clippers forward Blake Griffin the point-blank dunk.

Leonard chose the former and earned his fifth foul with 7:13 remaining in the third quarter.

By the time Leonard returned, over nine minutes later, the scrappy Spurs had flipped a three-point deficit into an eight-point advantage.

With Leonard back, the Spurs were able to finish off the Clippers at the Staples Center, 105-97. 

Leonard led the Spurs (44-13) with 21 points and six assists and avoided fouling out of a game for the first time in his career.

Spurs center Pau Gasol returned after a 15-game absence, his formerly fractured left hand fully healed.

He recorded a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double off the bench and matched his career high with three 3-pointers. 

“For the most part, (I conditioned) as much as I could,” Gasol said. “It’s nothing like playing a game at the end of the day, because of the adrenaline and every other factor that goes into it. But I worked really, really hard to be in a good place.”

LaMarcus Aldridge also picked up a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers (35-23) with 29 points and nine rebounds.

The victory moved the Spurs to 5-2 on this year’s rodeo trip, with only Sunday’s game against the Lakers remaining on the team’s annual cross-country excursion.

nmoyle@express-news.net 

Twitter: @NRmoyle

 

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