San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Tim Duncan was an All-Star this year, but he had to go deep tonight and handle extra volume. For the most part, he did work on the Clippers, going for a team-high 28 points (on 14-of-23 shooting) and 11 rebounds. Duncan also had four assists and two steals, and turned the ball over only once. In a game where Tony Parker (injury) and Manu Ginobili (fouls) left early, Duncan was a stabilizing force.
That was … polluted: On Earth Day, the Clippers and Spurs didn’t exactly play a clean game. The Spurs led for most of this game, but they started losing control after halftime. That’s when the fouls came in. After only seven first half fouls, the Spurs had 24 fouls in the 2nd half, including overtime. The Clippers missed 12 free throws in the fourth quarter, but they had a 94-92 lead with 32 seconds left after a Matt Barnes interception. Unfortunately, Blake Griffin (29 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) lost the ball, a la Kevin Durant in Game 6 of the 2014 Western Conference Finals. The Clippers just let this one slip under a barrage of missed free throws, untimely turnovers, and blown opportunities.
X factor: The theme for this series is the fact that the Clippers don’t have as many usable minutes off the bench as San Antonio does. Patty Mills helped save the Spurs tonight. After a foul-plagued first half, Mills scored 8 quick points at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarters. Mills would then replace an injured Parker (0-for-6 from the field) with five minutes left in regulation, tie the game on free throws following Griffin’s live-ball turnover, then score eight of San Antonio’s 17 overtime points. The Spurs bench outscored the Los Angeles bench 48-17 tonight. Meanwhile, the Clippers bench combined for 47 minutes tonight, none by Spencer Hawes, who earned his first DNP-CD.
— Law Murray
Tweet(s) Of The Game
Spurs scored exactly 0 points after DJ free throw attempts. That plus fouling in first 5 secs is great way to blow a lead
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) April 23, 2015
Tim Duncan is the oldest star at Staples Center tonight who hasn't had plastic surgery.
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) April 23, 2015
Wonder if those are fatigue turnovers by Griffin. Uncharacteristic
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) April 23, 2015
— NBA (@NBA) April 23, 2015
Check Your Messages
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Gregg Popovich had been called for a technical foul during a timeout. As the timeout ended, one J.J. Redick walked towards the charity stripe, and as part of the Clippers’ ninety-plus percent triumvirate of free throw shooters, the likelihood that he would drain the shot appeared high.
The shot went up, gently bouncing from the front of the rim and then to the back, making another ricochet off the glass before appearing to head down towards the bottom of the net. Instead, the ball stood atop the front of the rim, static, lifeless, and without a care for the gasping crowd, which waited for what felt like a lifetime before the ball painstakingly slid down the other side of the rim. A miss.
The miss was not the reason the Clippers lost the game, but personifies how important it can be for those fifty-fifty situations break in favor of a team in close games.
– Brandon Tomyoy
How Is He Still Here?!
With a little more than 3 minutes left to go in the fourth quarter, Tim Duncan committed his fifth foul. Great players, especially historically great and famously cerebral ones like Duncan, will be able to avoid picking up that sixth foul for a long time, but it has to have an impact on their defensive aggressiveness. That seemed like a weakness the Clippers could exploit, a chance to go at the rim with Duncan hamstrung by foul trouble and Splitter glued to the bench, but the Clippers never took advantage.
Before overtime began the broadcast clearly showed Matt Barnes shouting about it to the Clipper huddle, “Five fouls! Duncan has five!” He said, and still the Clippers didn’t make much of an effort to go at him. Over the final 8+ minutes of game time that Duncan was in with five, he scored two huge buckets and recorded a big assist, in addition to his ever-present calming leadership. It was just one of many missed opportunities for the Clippers in this nail-biting bummer of a loss.
– Ben Mesirow