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Clippers already hurting in Game 1 loss

PRO BASKETBALL

Well-rested Spurs are efficient in a 108-92 victory, making 52% of three-pointers. Chris Paul has an off game with six points and five turnovers.

May 15, 2012|By Broderick Turner

SAN ANTONIO — In the end, the Clippers simply got beat in every way by an efficient San Antonio Spurs team.

The 108-92 defeat to the Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night at the AT&T Center was just the endgame.

The Clippers were out-shot from the field, from three-point range and the free-throw line. They were outrebounded, out-assisted and outscored in the paint.

They had Blake Griffin (sprained left knee), Chris Paul (strained right hip flexor), Caron Butler (fractured left hand) and Mo Williams (sore right hand) playing with injuries.

If not for the play of second-year guard Eric Bledsoe, who tied his career high with 23 points, the Clippers never would have been in the game.

Paul and Griffin, the Clippers' two All-Stars, seemed to be affected the most by their injuries.

Paul had only six points, missing 10 of 13 shots. He had 10 assists and five steals, but he also had five of the Clippers' 16 turnovers. The Spurs turned it over 18 times, but it didn't matter.

In order to win Game 2 Thursday night, Paul had the answer.

"Play better. It's that simple," he said. "Try not to turn the ball over. Try to make some shots.

"Play some better defense. It's that simple."

It would help if Griffin were able to give them more. But his injury limited him to 28 minutes. He had 15 points, missing 10 of 17 shots.

"At tipoff, I felt ready to go," Griffin said. "But throughout the course of the game, I was feeling a little more fatigued a little bit quicker than normal. I'll get back in the training room, get treatment and I hope to be better next game."

The Clippers had a little over 1 1/2 days to recover from a physical, seven-game series against the Grizzlies, winning a Game 7 Memphis.

Meanwhile, the Spurs were well-rested, having taken care of the Utah Jazz in a four-game sweep, giving San Antonio eight days to rest and prepare.

It showed in how the Spurs won their first five playoff games, and now 15 in a row overall.

The Spurs were the best three-point shooting team in the NBA during the regular season (39.3%) and in the playoffs (40.7%), and they demonstrated why.

They shot 52% from the three-point line against the Clippers, making 13 of 25, the makes tying a franchise playoff record.

Tim Duncan didn't make any of the three-pointers, but he did have 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Tony Parker had an off shooting night, making only one of nine from the field, but Manu Ginobili picked up the slack with 22 points, making three of eight three-pointers. Rookie small forward Kawhi Leonard had 16 points, making all three of his three-pointers.

"You shoot the ball like that from the three, you have a great chance to win," Paul said. "We didn't guard it well."

Even so, the Clippers cut an 18-point deficit to eight points in the fourth quarter by playing defense, hustling and letting Bledsoe do his thing.

"I just want to come in and do what I can," said Bledsoe, who made 10 of 16 shots from the field. "I want to play defense, score if they need it. Whatever I can do to get the win, at the end of the day, that's what I'm going to do."

But then Kenyon Martin missed a shot with the opportunity to pull the Clippers to within six points.

That was the start of the Clippers missing 10 of their next 11 shots, eventually putting them in a 16-point hole after Duncan made two free throws, leaving the Clippers down 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.

"It would be tough it if was like, 'Man, we did everything right, did everything we wanted to do and couldn't beat them,'" Paul said. "But that's a good team over there and we just can't make as many mistakes as we did."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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