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Spurs push Clippers to brink of elimination with 96-86 win

Rousing Start

The fast-paced Clippers made a rousing start in front of a sellout crowd of 19,060, racing into a 27-9 lead after a sizzling 14-0 run sparked by forward Griffin before ending the first quarter 33-11 ahead.

The Staples Center was a vocal sea of red with most of the home fans wearing giveaway red T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Clipper Nation All In.”

Los Angeles briefly stretched their lead to 24 points when Nick Young poured in a three-pointer but, with Parker and Duncan beginning to make an impact, the Spurs cut the deficit to 53-43 by halftime.

San Antonio tightened their defense and, as the Clippers struggled to find the basket, the visitors took the lead for the first time at 59-57 after a Duncan fadeaway jump shot capped a stirring 14-0 run.

The Spurs extended that unbroken run to 24-0 before ending the third quarter with a 69-61 advantage.

San Antonio maintained their grip in the fourth quarter, repeatedly fouling Clippers reserve forward Reggie Evans who made just three of 10 free throws as time ebbed away.

Game Four is in Los Angeles on Sunday when the Spurs will look to complete a 4-0 sweep and the Clippers will bid to become the first team ever to win an NBA playoff series after trailing 0-3.

“We have to keep fighting,” said Clippers All-Star guard Chris Paul, who contributed 11 assists and just 12 points while still being hampered by a strained right hip. “It's never been done before in history.

“We were desperate in Game Seven in Memphis and you saw how we came out and played,” he added, referring to his team's road win over the Grizzlies to clinch their Western Conference quarterfinal.

“Hopefully we can be the best for the next four games.”

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 Thunder silence Lakers to take series lead 
Tim Duncan, left, of the San Antonio Spurs controls the ball against Kenyon Martin of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, Saturday, May 19. The Spurs won 96-86 to take a three games to none lead in the series. (AFP)

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