Spurs clip away at deficit, hold 3-0 series lead on Clippers

By Quixem Ramirez

May 19, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) and San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) go for a rebound during the first half of game three of the Western Conference semi finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

Instead of bludgeoning their opponent into submission through successive blows, the San Antonio Spurs rallied from a 24-point deficit to upend the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

The tenor of the game was established early on when the Clippers followed every Spurs basket with one of their own. The Clippers eventually punctuated the quarter with a decisive Mo Williams 3-pointer that happened after a costly Stephen Jackson turnover. At the end of the first quarter, Los Angeles tripled San Antonio’s point total.

Understandably, it was a bit jarring for Spurs fans to glance up at their television screens in the first half. But the Spurs remained calm, moved the ball and relied on Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to bail them out of tenuous situations. The end result?

A third consecutive Clippers loss and one that they will definitely want back. The Spurs parlayed their momentum — they cut the 24-point lead to 10 at halftime — into a 24-0 run that spanned eight minutes of the third quarter. During this stretch, the Clippers went 0-for-12 from the field with three turnovers. 20-year-old rookie Kawhi Leonard impacted both sides of the ball, including some solid defense on Blake Griffin, who finished the game with 28 points and 16 rebounds.

Judging by Gregg Popovich’s distribution of minutes, it appeared that he, too, felt the pressure of winning and earning more potential rest along the road. San Antonio starters logged 157:10 minutes of a possible 240 with Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal the only bench players logging significant time. It was the starters that closed the gap and continued to pour on the points to the dismay of Clippers fans. Their +89 certainly supports that logic.

Let’s just, you know, not make this a habit guys.

Because maybe next time we “spot” a 24-point lead, the Spurs won’t be so lucky.

Game notesThe Spurs have won 17 consecutive games and 26 of their last 28 games … The Spurs assisted on 77.1% of their 35 shots … San Antonio starters converted on 6-of-12 3-pointers … The Clippers, who are shooting at a higher rate than the Spurs this series, only converted on 3-of-9 shots from deep … The Clippers made 50% of their 18 free throw attempts; they have missed 19 this series … With his 5-17 performance, Chris Paul’s field goal percentage dipped to 30.8% this series … There was one lead change and two ties … Other than Paul, no other Clipper dished out more than three assists … Tony Parker totaled 23 points and 10 assists, his ninth 20-10 game of the season … Tim Duncan totaled 19 points and 13 rebounds, his 26th double-double of the season …