At home in a must-win situation, the Los Angeles Clippers choked up a 24-point lead to the San Antonio Spurs Saturday, all but assuring their playoff run with Chris Paul at the helm will come to a disappointing end — soon.
The Spurs rallied with a 24-point run and demoralized the shell-shocked Clippers, taking a 96-86 Game 3 victory that placed L.A. on the edge of extinction. For sure, no team in NBA history has overcome such a deficit in a seven-game series.
It’s just a matter of time now. . . like tonight when they play Game 4 at the Staples Center. It will be hard for the Clippers to respond to wasting a two-dozen point lead with any conviction. The Spurs, meanwhile, have now won 17 games in a row and are playing better than anyone.
“We didn’t plan on being down that much,” said forward Tim Duncan, who had 19 points. ”We stuck with it.”
Led by Tony Parker’s 23 points and his defense on Paul, the Spurs kept did not totally collapse under the weight of L.A.’s Blake Griffin’s spectacular early assault. Griffin had 20 points by halftime, but San Antonio did not panic.
”They came out like we expected, very strong. Blake was making crazy shots,” Parker said. ”We just took our time. It’s a long game, a very long game. At halftime, we were very calm.”
And it showed. After the break, San Antonio cut and spliced the Clippers with ease. Before long, the Spurs were in control of the game — and the series.
Griffin had 28 points and 16 rebounds, and reserve Mo Williams added 19 points for the Clippers. They do not have many games left.
“If we don’t play with that sense of urgency, it’s not going to be pretty,” Griffin said.