SAN ANTONIO -- When Richard Jefferson opted out of a lucrative contract this summer, he signed a new deal paying him more like a sidekick than a star.
Compared to last year, the Spurs are getting a bargain.
Jefferson scored 22 points -- his third 20-point night in the past four games -- and the San Antonio Spurs won their fifth straight with a 107-95 victory over the banged-up Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
A bundle of 20-point games was nothing for Jefferson before arriving in San Antonio. But coming off a miserable debut with the Spurs last season, Jefferson has quietly emerged as the second-leading scorer for the 6-1 Spurs.
He's not expecting to take over the top spot.
"I doubt it," Jefferson said. "You look at Manu [Ginobili] and
Tony [Parker]; they have the balls in their hand the majority of the game. My job is to knock down shots."
Ginobili also had 22 points, and Parker had 21 points and nine rebounds.
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Injuries have decimated the Clippers, who are off to another horrendous start for the woebegone franchise. They fell to 1-8, so far showing no signs of the playoff potential that first-year coach Vinny Del Negro felt he had.
Rasual Butler led the Clippers with 18 points. Blake Griffin struggled for a second straight game, scoring 11 points on 5-of-18 shooting, a night after scoring 10 in a loss to New Orleans.
His most memorable play was a one-handed alley-oop dunk late in the fourth, which he might have thrown down with frustration after the rookie was whistled for a technical foul.
"It's not like we're going out there and giving up," Griffin said. "It's tough. We've already lost more games than we lost my last year in college, and [Oklahoma] played almost three time the amount of games we've played."
San Antonio improved to 6-1 and is so far making good on its goal of not lumbering out of the gate as in recent seasons. Only undefeated New Orleans has beaten the Spurs, who've taken advantage of struggling teams during this early streak.
In beating the Clippers, the Spurs have won their past three games against one-win teams. Next up is Philadelphia, which has won only twice.
But the Clippers didn't make this one entirely easy.
Forced to play their fourth different starting lineup already this season, the Clippers took the lead midway through the third quarter on an Eric Bledsoe 3-pointer. The Spurs answered with a 10-0 run, and despite a brief surge in the fourth quarter, the Clippers were soon headed home after a winless four-game road trip.
Tim Duncan, who skipped shootaround Wednesday morning because of flu-like symptoms, still started but scored just six points in 22 minutes.
Jefferson, who gave up $15.2 million this year to sign a new four-year deal worth about $38 million, was 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line.
"If you look at the way we started last year ... we were losing to teams we probably shouldn't have lost to," Jefferson said. "Here we're giving ourselves a little bit more of a cushion."
Kaman is expected to miss at least two weeks after spraining his ankle Tuesday night at New Orleans. The Clippers were also missing leading scorer Eric Gordon (shoulder) for the second straight night and point guard Baron Davis.
Davis played for the first time in five games Tuesday, but Del Negro said his sore knee still isn't healthy enough to play back-to-backs. Backup guard Randy Foye (hamstring) also continues to sit out.
"We got five guys hurt. It's weird; we came out of the locker to warm up and it was like half our team out there," Griffin said. "It's like going into a battle with half your guys. But we can't make excuses."
The Clippers haven't beaten the Spurs since March 2006. They'll get their next chance Dec. 1 in San Antonio, where the Clippers haven't won in eight years. ... Spurs rookie Gary Neal, who hit five 3-pointers in a win Monday at Charlotte, didn't enter the game until close to the final minute.