Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Midway through the third quarter, Matt Barnes wrestled Aron Baynes into the photographers while battling for a loose ball along the baseline.
A sign of things to come for what promises to be a physical series between two heavyweights.
Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers landed the first blow, beating the defending-champion San Antonio Spurs 107-92 in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
The third-seeded Clippers led by eight following Barnes' triple just before his tie up with Baynes at 4:41. Less than a minute later, Paul fed a cutting Griffin for a thunderous slam over Baynes, bringing the raucous Staples Center crowd to their feet.
"We just tried to be there for each other," said Paul.
Griffin embarrassed Baynes with another dunk at 1:02, this time after putting a spin move on Cory Joseph. The Clippers embarked on a 17-7 run following Barnes' scrum, giving them a commanding 79-61 lead.
Griffin posted 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists and Paul had 32 points, seven boards and six helpers for the Clippers, who entered the postseason having won 14 of 15. DeAndre Jordan gave 14 rebounds and four blocks, and Jamal Crawford scored 17 off the bench.
"We're fans of each other, we feed off of each other," said Crawford. "Blake is incredible."
Kawhi Leonard hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third and Patty Mills connected on a pair from outside early in the fourth. Tim Duncan's putback slam had San Antonio within 12 at 9:32.
It was down to nine following 3s by Danny Green and Marco Belinelli. Out of a timeout, Griffin converted a three-point play, preceding baskets by Paul and Jordan that put the game out of reach.
Game 2 is set for Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Leonard finished with 18 points and Duncan tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who are looking to repeat as champions for the first time in franchise history. They went 14-2 to finish the regular season, but looked overmatched by LA's athleticism in Game 1.
"Their defense was better than our offense," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "That's the bottom line."
The Clippers led 30-18 after the first quarter, then relinquished the lead after turning to their reserves.
A 10-0 run had the Spurs within two less than two minutes into the period, and Duncan's layup near the midpoint put the visitors in front, 37-35.
LA countered with a 10-0 run of its own, which Paul jumpstarted with his pullup jumper.
The Clippers led 49-43 at halftime.
Spurs center Tiago Splitter (calf) returned from a six-game absence and scored four points in 10 minutes ... The Spurs are looking to become just the second No. 6 seed in NBA history to win the title. The 1995 Rockets are the lone sixth seed to accomplish that feat ... The Clippers shot 51.3 percent from the floor to San Antonio's 36.6 percent. Both teams made 10 3-pointers, though the Clippers took 15 fewer attempts.