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Clippers' season is over after 102-99 loss to Spurs in Game 4

The Clippers are swept out of the Western Conference semifinals by San Antonio, which has won its last 18 games. Blake Griffin scores 21 points for Clippers.

May 20, 2012|By Broderick Turner

The Clippers didn't go easily when they could have, when many thought they would have.

They played Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the San Antonio Spurs right up to the final few seconds of the game Sunday night.

Still, in the end, the Clippers dropped a 102-99 decision to the Spurs at Staples Center, getting swept out of the playoffs.

Chris Paul had been the Clippers' savior all season, their closer. But he couldn't save the day this time, missing two shots late when the game hung in the balance.

And it was Paul's best game of the series, his 23 points and 11 assists going a long way to help the Clippers.

"We had a good season," Paul said. "I think it's a good sign for our team, but there are no moral victories. It's not like, 'Oh, we made it to the playoffs and it's all good and well.' We feel like we should still be playing.

"We're going to keep working. We've got some work to do. We obviously have got to get better."

It'll start with Blake Griffin making improvements in his game.

He had 21 points and five rebounds and admitted that he has to make strides in his overall game.

Griffin, who can sign a five-year contract extension this summer for up to $95 million, was asked about his future.

"I haven't given it one ounce of thought," Griffin said. "That's been the farthest thing from my mind, honestly. ... I'll get to that when it comes."

Eric Bledsoe had a good game for the Clippers with 17 points, 11 in the fourth quarter.

DeAndre Jordan played his best game of the playoffs, scoring 10 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking three shots.

But it wasn't enough because Tim Duncan had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Spurs and Tony Parker had 17 points.

"They are a good team," Griffin said. "Not taking away from them. They played extremely well.

"But it doesn't make us feel any better. This is nothing about that that you can feel good about."

Paul drove into the teeth of San Antonio's defense and threw up a floater that was an airball with the Clippers trailing, 100-99.

He then fouled Danny Green, who made one of two free throws for a 101-99 Spurs lead with 10.8 seconds left.

The Clippers called a timeout with 10.5 seconds left and put the ball in Paul's hands again.

He couldn't deliver again, slipping on the court and missing with 3.9 seconds left.

Tony Parker made one of two free throws with 1.7 seconds left for the final margin.

"I messed up," Paul said. "Bad decisions. Bad decisions. ... It's all on me."

Paul played with a strained right hip flexor.

Griffin (sprained left knee), Caron Butler (fractured left hand) and Mo Williams (sore right hand) all played.

Then Griffin endured more pain after an elbow from Parker cut his lip on a drive in the second quarter.

Griffin's top tooth went through his lip, causing him to get four stitches -- two on the inside and two on the outside of his lip.

None of that seemed to matter to the Clippers in the fourth and decisive quarter.

They played it up to the end.

The Spurs have won 18 straight games dating back to the regular season, all eight in the playoffs, including sweeps in the first (Utah Jazz) and second rounds (Clippers).

They will meet either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Lakers in the conference finals.

"I think it's great that our team got a little taste of the playoffs," Paul said.

"I think coming into camp next year we are going to expect more, a lot more. It's going to be a big summer for all of us.

"I need to get better. Everybody has to get better."

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