For the first 20 minutes or so of Saturday afternoon’s tilt at Staples, the Clippers appeared to be back in the series.
After dropping the first two games down in San Antonio, it looked as though a return home after over a full week away was just what the Clippers needed to light a fire under them.
The Clippers could do no wrong, while the Spurs looked as old, tired and unprepared as they could possibly be.
San Antonio was turning the ball over and bricking seemingly every shot they threw up, while Los Angeles was taking every conceivable advantage. They outscored the Spurs 33-11 in the first quarter, including a 20-2 run. The quarter came to a close with the Clippers on a 14-0 spurt.
At the 9:17 mark of the second quarter, the Clips held a massive 40-16 lead.
And then, the universe righted itself.
A Tim Duncan jumper here, a Chris Paul turnover there, and, by halftime, the Spurs had whittled the Clippers’ lead to just 10, and all momentum had completely shifted in the other direction.
At that point, was there even any doubt?
San Antonio went on to dismantle the Clippers the rest of the way, highlighted by a gargantuan 24-0 run in the middle of the third quarter, and won it 96-86. Overall, the Spurs outscored L.A. 26-8 in that third period.
The Spurs improved to 7-0 so far in the postseason, and now hold a 3-0 series lead that has the Clippers’ season staring death in the face.
Blake Griffin scored 28 points (13-24 from the field) to go along with 16 rebounds in one of his better games to this point in the playoffs, but got very little support from the hobbled Chris Paul, who shot just 5-17 and scored 12 points while handing out 11 assists.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 23 points and 10 assists, while Tim Duncan chipped-in with 19 and 10 rebounds, helping San Antonio to win its 17th consecutive game dating back to end of the regular season.
San Antonio’s methodical offense was giving the Clippers fits defensively during the game-changing momentum swing, and their own offense bogged down into a bunch of no-motion chaos that resulted in tough shot after tough shot.
After scoring 40 points in the first 14 minutes of the game, L.A. scored just 46 total over the course of the remaining 34 minutes. The Clippers have now lost 29 of their last 33 meetings overall with the Spurs, and dropped to 2-2 at home during these playoffs.
And, of course, no team in NBA history has ever come back to win a series after falling down 3-0.
They’ll get right back at it Sunday night at Staples Center, where the little Clips will try to stave off elimination. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30pm PT.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.