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The Clippers look for answers against the San Antonio Spurs

Down 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinal series, they hope being at home helps. They also know they need a better effort from Chris Paul.

May 18, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • Chris Paul finished Thursday's game with 10 points and a career-high eight turnovers.
Chris Paul finished Thursday's game with 10 points and a career-high… (Eric Gay / Associated Press )

The Clippers don't view this situation as a mountain they can't climb, despite the San Antonio Spurs' owning a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals series.

Despite losing the two games by an average of 16.5 points, the Clippers still see an opportunity to get back into the series.

They cling to the hope that they will play better, that being home for Game 3 Saturday afternoon and Game 4 Sunday night at Staples Center will be an impetus for them.

"We're not completely out of this," Blake Griffin, who has a sprained left knee, said after practice Friday. "We've got two games at home and we have played better at home so we have to capitalize on that."

Only twice in the history of the franchise have the Clippers come back from a 2-0 deficit to tie a playoff series.

The 1992 Clippers lost the first two first-round playoff games to the Utah Jazz, won the next two and then lost Game 5, losing the series, 3-2.

And when the franchise was known as the Buffalo Braves, the team lost the first two games to the Boston Celtics in the 1976 Eastern Conference semifinals, then won the next two games before dropping two straight to lose the series, 4-2.

This season, the Clippers are 2-1 at home in the playoffs, and 24-9 at home during the regular season.

"The next game is our Game 7," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said Friday. "The next game after that is our Game 7.... We have to play better, play at a higher level. We know that."

It's no secret that point guard Chris Paul has to play much better for the Clippers to have a chance.

He has done a poor job taking care of the ball, turning it over 6.5 times per game in the series. Overall, he has 38 turnovers in nine playoff games, an average of 4.2.

Turnovers aren't usually a problem for Paul. He was second in the NBA during the regular season in assist-to-turnover ratio.

"Some of the turnovers are not like him," Del Negro said. "But San Antonio is good. They load up [on defense] really well. But I expect him to bounce back well."

Paul has been dealing with a strained right hip flexor.

The Clippers injury list also includes Caron Butler, who has a fractured left hand but has found a way to play with it. Mo Williams has a sore right shooting hand and Nick Young has a painful tooth that he has to take medication for until he can get a root canal.

"Everybody has little things here and there," Griffin said. "We've just got to find a way to play through it and find a way to counteract that."

The Clippers were outrebounded in the first two games against the Spurs. In Game 2 against San Antonio, Griffin had just one rebound.

The Clippers have been outrebounded in seven of their nine playoff games.

The Clippers also allowed the Spurs to average 106.5 points per game in the first two games and shoot 50.9% from the field and 46% from three-point range.

The Clippers watched a lot of film Friday and hoped they learned how to slow down the Spurs.

"We just learned defensively how to simplify a few schemes," said Griffin.

The Clippers forward was called for a flagrant-one foul for his aggressive foul on Tony Parker in Game 2, but on Friday the NBA rescinded the flagrant foul.

"We learned to simplify a few things [on defense] that we do that can hopefully keep us from scrambling and make it a little bit easier on us," Griffin said.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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