Spurs push Clippers to brink of elimination with 96-86 win
By Mark Lamport-Stokes ,Reuters
May 21, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
LOS ANGELES -- The top-seeded San Antonio Spurs pushed the Los Angeles Clippers to the brink of elimination from the NBA playoffs with an astonishing 96-86 comeback win in Game 3 on Saturday.
Trailing by 24 points early in the second quarter, the Spurs seized control through All-Stars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.
Guard Parker recorded 23 points and 10 assists while towering forward Duncan weighed in with 19 points and 13 rebounds as San Antonio extended their unbeaten run to 17 games, including seven in the playoffs.
Blake Griffin, despite playing with a left hip injury and a sprained right knee, led the way for the Clippers with 28 points and 16 rebounds but his heart-broken team paid the penalty for poor free shooting, making only 50 percent from the stripe.
“To start the game, the Clippers played very aggressively and played great defense,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters. “On top of that, they made their shots, we didn't make ours and we were in transition a lot.
“We called some plays that helped us and Tony (Parker) ran the show really well. He knows what's going on out there and it just worked out for us tonight.”
Thirteen-time All-Star forward Duncan applauded his team's composure under the early pressure piled on by the fifth-seeded Clippers.
“We understood that they were going to make a run early and we needed to sustain,” he said. “We've been through enough of them (playoff games) to understand that's how it goes.
“It was great poise by our entire team. We were lucky enough in that second half to start making some shots and making some stops.”