• The Spurs will be without starting wing Kawhi Leonard when they play the Clippers tonight at Staples Center in a matchup of top Western Conference teams. Leonard will sit out because of a sore left knee that caused him to miss 18 games earlier this season. Leonard, third on the team in scoring at 10.6 points, played Tuesday night in a 108-102 victory in Sacramento, finishing with 15 points, but San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is electing to rest Leonard against the Clippers. Leonard missed the last meeting between these teams with the same ailment, a 92-87 victory by the Clippers on Nov. 19 in San Antonio.
  • Lamar Odom will be available to play for the Clippers tonight. Odom left in the first half of L.A.’s most recent game, a 125-101 victory last Thursday against the Lakers. Odom wore a protective mask during practice this week, but isn’t expected to wear it against San Antonio. Odom is a key member of a reserve corps that is third in the NBA in scoring (40.1). He’s one double-double from 300 in his career.
  • The Clippers beat the Spurs twice in the first three weeks of this season and have won three straight regular-season games overall against San Antonio for the first time since 1995-98. The Clippers are much deeper than they were earlier this season against the Spurs. Chauncey Billups is healthy and playing well, combining for 40 points the last two games while shooting 9-for-14 from 3-point range. Grant Hill was also sidelined when these teams last met, though the 40-year-old veteran has fallen out of coach Vinny Del Negro’s rotation.
  • The Clippers and Spurs rank first and third in the NBA in steals. The Clippers average 10 swipes a game, San Antonio averages 8.7. San Antonio’s rise in that department has been especially noteworthy, as the Spurs haven’t averaged at least that number since 1991-92.


–Dan Arritt

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