Spurs’ revival faces stern test vs. Clippers

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The San Antonio Spurs might have put together their best half of basketball in a month during a victory Thursday over the Brooklyn Nets but are not quite ready to say they have turned the corner with a record still under .500.

At 11-16, the Spurs will have a chance to take another step forward when they play host to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

San Antonio beat the Clippers on Nov. 29 to begin their slow crawl back to respectability and have won five out of their past eight games after enduring a streak of 10 losses in 11 outings. Included in that stumble was an eight-game losing streak.

On Thursday against the Nets, San Antonio rode its stifling defense, which kept Brooklyn without a field goal for nearly an eight-minute stretch that started with 2:07 remaining in the third quarter. The Spurs also leaned on the hot hand of reserve guard Patty Mills for an 118-105 victory.

Mills nailed seven of his 10 3-pointers and scored a season-high 27 points, leading the Spurs to their 17th consecutive win over Brooklyn in San Antonio.

“We’ve just got to find ways to win,” Mills said. “A lot of it comes down to energy and effort. We’re working out the kinks of being able to execute a lot more than we have. We’re just grinding it, grinding it out and finding ways to win.

“We’re improving, we’re getting better and you know, there is just that fight we’ve got as a group that we are just not going to throw the towel in. So we’re in it together. We understand that, and it’s good.”

Mills scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half and sparked a Spurs rally that turned the game around late in the third quarter. Mills hit 6 of 11 shots, including 5 of 8 from beyond the arc in the last two quarters.

The Clippers head to the Alamo City after a 122-117 loss at home to the Houston Rockets on Thursday. Paul George had 34 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles, which lost for only the second time in 16 games at home. Kawhi Leonard added 25 points and nine rebounds, while Montrezl Harrell had 19 points.

The Clippers had a 15-point halftime lead but were undone by a horrific third quarter in which they were outscored by 18.

“We had a big lead and came out and kind of gave it up,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought it was like when you get jumped. I thought that’s what happened. We didn’t react to it very well.

“The beginning of the third, that first six minutes, changed the entire game,” he said. “I thought we had a chance to knock them out, and we didn’t.”

Clippers guard Lou Williams, who finished with only six points, was ejected after drawing two technical fouls for arguing with officials less than a minute into the fourth quarter. Williams was angered after being called for a foul on Russell Westbrook, who finished with a season-high 40 points for Houston.

The Spurs and Clippers have split the two games they have played this season, both winning on their home courts. San Antonio has a 129-43 all-time edge on Los Angeles, including a 73-14 mark at home.

–Field Level Media

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