The San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers might have two of the NBA's most explosive offensive players in Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul, but defense will be the deciding factor when the teams meet Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The Spurs and Clippers traveled to the Alamo City after road victories late Friday night. The Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 99-88 and the Spurs handled the Utah Jazz 100-86, avenging a 110-95 loss to the Jazz on Tuesday in San Antonio.
That loss was the first at home for the Spurs this season. It took until its 79th game and its 40th of 41 home games for San Antonio to fall at the AT&T Center last season.
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The Spurs (5-1), who have been without starting shooting guard Danny Green all season because of a left quad sprain, kept point guard Tony Parker back in San Antonio with right knee soreness. Parker is expected to miss about a week, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News on Friday.
"Parker hurt his knee against Golden State (in the season opener on Oct. 25)," Popovich said. "He hyperextended it and it's just bruised basically, so we are giving him time to heal."
Parker, who missed an earlier game at home against New Orleans, is averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 assists per game in his four appearances with the Spurs this season. Patty Mills started at the point on Friday at Utah and scored 16 points, hitting six of his first seven shots from the field.
Leonard led San Antonio in scoring with 29 points. He has been the Spurs'scoring leader in all six of their games.
In Friday's win over Memphis, Paul tied a season high with 27 points and led the team in scoring for the fourth time in five games. Los Angeles also got 21 rebounds from center DeAndre Jordan, almost twice his season average (11.3) entering the game.
The Clippers (4-1) are just two points from being undefeated. They've enjoyed a 12.5-point winning margin in their four victories, with their only loss on a last-gasp bucket by Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook in an 85-83 defeat at home on Wednesday.
Los Angeles is shooting 41.5 percent from the floor (tied for 28th) and just 28.9 percent from 3-point range, the latter ranked 26th in the NBA. The Clippers are 20th in offense at 100 points per game and have twice score 88 points or less.
"I don't think we are worried -- we will eventually break out," Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin said after the loss to Oklahoma City. "It is not something we can't figure out. It is early in the season and it is a frustrating loss, but we are going correct our mistakes. We will use this as a learning process."
Playing against the Spurs seems like an unlikely scenario for an offensive explosion. San Antonio has allowed just 94 points per game in its six games.
The Spurs beat the Clippers two of the three times the teams played in the 2015-16 season, with both teams winning their games at home.
Parker became the youngest player to ever appear in a game for the Spurs when he suited up on Oct. 30, 2001, against the Clippers. The 19-year-old Frenchman had nine points and three assists in his NBA debut.