SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich coaches two of the best players in the NBA in Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, but he also has been impressed by two Clippers.
Popovich had nothing but high praise for Clippers All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Popovich called Paul one of the toughest players in the NBA.
"He's a mean, nasty man," Popovich said, affectionately. "And he's a pain in the [butt]. I don't know if there is anybody more competitive in the league than that little dude. He's one of those guys that they must have stole his toys and everything when he was a kid. He's getting back at the world, because he's mad at everybody once he steps on the court."
Popovich also called Griffin one of the better young players in the league.
"He's got an edge to him," Popovich said. "He's physical. He's competitive. He works on weaker parts of his game, just like all good players do. He improves year to year. So, he's special. That's why he's an All-Star. He's just going to get better. He hasn't even tapped what he's going to be two years from now, three years from now. He's just going to get better and better."
Billups having tough season
After missing his fourth of the last five games with a strained right groin, Chauncey Billups reflected on the injuries he has dealt with the last two seasons.
Billups suffered a ruptured left Achilles' tendon injury last season that required season-ending surgery.
He missed the first 14 regular-season games this season rehabilitating that injury.
Then Billups missed 34 games with what the Clippers called peroneal tendinitis in his left foot. He missed one game with a sore lower back.
Now he has the groin injury.
"I'll tell you what. These last two seasons have been the toughest of my career," Billups said.
He called the Achilles' tendon injury "major."
"But I prepared myself for the fight back," Billups said. "These little knickknack things, my rehab people were very honest with me telling me that, 'You're going to see a lot of that this season. And you really won't be all the way to yourself, feeling everything until the following season.' So, with that in my mind, I was honest with myself, knowing it's going to be some of these little setbacks.
"I'm not going to over-exaggerate them. I'm just going to deal with them and get back and just do the best that I can."
While the Spurs were making 20 of 21 free throws, the Clippers made just 12 of 21 (57.1%).
The biggest culprit was DeAndre Jordan, who missed seven of eight free throws. He also was intentionally fouled by the Spurs several times.
"He's got to keep working on them," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He's going to be in those situations again and obviously all those extra points matter."
Griffin wore a black sleeve on his left leg, saying after the game that his left calf has "been bothering me for a while."