The Spurs continued their dominance over the Clippers by building an 11-point lead about four minutes into the second quarter. Much as the Clippers tried it was hard to get around the fact that the Spurs just appeared to be the better team. Whatever equality the Clippers seemed to have against Memphis was clearly missing in this series and continued on Sunday night.
When the Clippers closed the margin to 10 points with about 4:30 to play, the Spurs called timeout fearing that a 10-point lead wasn’t good enough.
Clearly, the Clippers were playing with a sense of elimination being inevitable but not impossible. Especially considering they were playing against an apparently superior team.
Blake Griffin was able to cut the lead to seven, 45-38, with 3:20 left in the first half when he converted a three-point play (field goal plus foul shot) and then cut it to five with a put-back. Suddenly the Clippers were playing hard.
Tony Parker extended the Spurs' lead back to seven with a pair of free throws while Griffin went to the locker room to repair a cut on his upper lip. Nothing serious.
Manu Ginobli and Eric Bledsoe exchanged baskets with a little over a minute remaining in the second quarter before Chris Paul closed it to five points with a jumper. Parker then made one of two free throws with 42 seconds to play.
That’s when Chris Paul made it interesting with a three-pointer, closing the deficit to three. But what could have been a strong rally with less than 10 seconds to play was stopped when Randy Foye was called for an obvious offensive foul on a drive in transition.
The Spurs closed out the quarter when Ginobli made one of two free throws, leaving the Clippers behind by four.
DeAndre Jordan was the Clipper's leading scorer with eight points followed by Griffin, Foye and Paul, all with seven. Parker led the Spurs with nine followed by Danny Green and Ginobli with seven.
Spurs 26, Clippers 21 (end of first quarter)
The Clippers clearly needed to show something in this game after falling behind 3-0 in the best-of-seven playoff series.
Unlike the competitive and hard-fought Lakers-Thunder series, the Clippers really haven’t shown they can compete with the Spurs.
The first quarter did little to dispel that notion as the Spurs built a five-point lead. The Clippers did start out strong but a quick Spurs run changed that.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with six points while DeAndre Jordan led the Clippers with six. An unexpected power source for the Clippers.
The Clippers just didn’t look like they could hang with the Spurs for the long haul. But stranger things have happened (as the Memphis Grizzlies can attest).
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