Los Angeles, Feb 25 (efe_epa).- Pau Gasol, who had been out of action since suffering a broken finger on Jan. 17, notched a double-double in the San Antonio Spurs' 105-97 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
His performance spoiled the return of Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who scored 17 points and had five assists in his first game since sustaining torn ligaments in his left thumb on Jan. 16.
Gasol, who had missed 15 games, scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench. Starting forward Kawhi Leonard led all Spurs players with 21 points.
The visitors got off to a rocky start on Friday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, committing four turnovers in the game's first four minutes and eight in the opening quarter, but they settled down and only lost the ball four more times the rest of the game.
The game was back-and-forth in the first three quarters, with the Spurs grabbing a 25-16 lead before the Clippers surged back and went ahead 32-27 thanks to strong play by reserve guard Austin Rivers.
The Spurs took a five-point lead at halftime, but the Clippers responded to take a 66-57 advantage in the third quarter due in large part to the play of Paul and forward Blake Griffin, who finished with a game-high 29 points.
San Antonio, however, got a big lift defensively from center Dewayne Dedmon at the start of the fourth quarter, turning the game around at that juncture and then holding on down the stretch for the victory.
The Clippers shot only 44 percent but did a solid job defensively on the Spurs, who made just 43 percent of their field-goal attempts.
San Antonio made two more shots from 3-point range (9-7) and also sank six more free throws to give them the slight advantage.
"We played on one side of the floor for most of the night tonight," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. "(Our offense) was tough to watch because you could see us out of rhythm, out of sync."
In other NBA action Friday night involving elite teams, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Boston Celtics 107-97 and the Utah Jazz cruised past the Milwaukee Bucks 109-95.