When it comes to the 2017 NBA Champion contenders, two of the top three on the list come from the Western Conference. It's already considered a foregone conclusion by many analysts and fans that the Golden State Warriors are favorites to win the West and advance to their third-straight NBA Finals. However, the San Antonio Spurs and their NBA MVP contender Kawhi Leonard are still a force to be reckoned with. They were in action on Friday night against the No. 4 team in the conference, the Los Angeles Clippers. Here's a look at how the Spurs vs. Clippers game played out in terms of the latest standings, as well as what the Utah Jazz did.

Chris Paul returns

The Clippers have gone 8-13 when Chris Paul is out of the lineup. He made his anticipated return on Friday night for the home game against the No. 2 team in the West. Unfortunately, it was on the losing side of things as his Los Angeles team ran into the San Antonio Spurs and fell 105-97.

CP3 finished the game with 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists in 33 minutes of time on the court. Teammate Blake Griffin led all of the Clippers' scorers with 29 points on 9-for-17 shooting. Griffin also had nine rebounds and five assists in a losing effort.

Spurs' top players

Pau Gasol also returned to his first game action for San Antonio in over a month after suffering a broken left hand.

Even though he came off the bench, the Spurs center had 17 points and 11 boards.

All-Star Kawhi Leonard led all Spurs scorers with 21 points and six assists, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Tony Parker also added 17 points for the winning side. The Spurs shot 42.7 percent and won the battle of the boards 51-36, including 36 defensive rebounds in the game.

Western Conference standings

Heading into Friday's action, the Spurs, Rockets, and Clippers were the next three squads behind the Warriors.

However, the Utah Jazz recorded a 109-95 win over Milwaukee to move ahead of the Clippers into the No. 4 spot.

All-Star Gordon Hayward led the way with 29 points while Derrick Favors chipped in 19. Rudy Gobert recorded a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Utah was 52-34 in terms of scoring in the paint. Milwaukee opened the game on an 11-3 run but the Jazz soon caught up to take a 12-11 lead and then never trailed again in the contest.

The Golden State Warriors remain atop the Western Conference standings with a record of 48-9. They'll return to action on Saturday night when they host the league-worst Brooklyn Nets (9-47).

The San Antonio Spurs are now 44-13 overall and continue their hold on the No. 2 spot, with Houston (41-18) at No. 3 in the NBA's Western Conference. The 35-23 Clippers fell to the fifth spot, as mentioned, with their loss.

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