The NBA Playoffs: Day 22: Battle in Los Angeles

Tim Duncan blocks Blake Griffin at the rim as the
Spurs deny the Clippers a win in Game 3
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

#ComeBack #GameOver
The Clippers started the game red hot and jumped to a quick 33-11 lead after the first quarter. It looked like the Spurs were going to give the Clippers one game. Too bad the game had to be played for another 36 minutes. It appeared that the Spurs just gave the Clippers a 24-point head start until they decided it was enough. The Spurs were focused and locked-in by the 2nd quarter and then the deficit vanished after an impressive 24-0 run that gave the Spurs the lead. That run took the energy out of the Clippers as they sputtered  in the end to lose by 10 points and are down 3-0 in the series. The Spurs have won 17 in a row and they dont appear to be slowing down. Coach Pop even instituted the Hack-A-Evans strategy at the fourth quarter to negate any comeback from the Clippers. Evans went 2-6 at that stretch of 3 straight fouls (3-10 for the game). A night after the Lakers showed excellence at the foul line (41-42), the Clippers showed ineptness going 9-18 while the Spurs almost had as many makes as the attempts of the Clippers (17-25).

#Timmy #Blake
Unlike Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan did not have a bad game in Game 3. Timmy posted another double-double with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks. One of those blocks were on Blake Griffin and it was an incredible block on Blake as he tried to dunk the ball (see photo). Meanwhile, Blake had an awesome first quarter where he scored 14 points to outscore the whole Spurs who had only 11. He even dunked on Tim Duncan! Griffin was on pace to score over 40 but he cooled down like the rest of the Clippers. Blake still finished with 28 and 16 but he needed to score more since the Clippers got nothing from Butler, Foye and Jordan (11 total points). Chris Paul had an okay game with 12 points and 11 assists but his rival Tony Parker outplayed him again with 23 and 10. No one in the NBA has come back from a 3-0 deficit and it the Clippers wont be the first team to do that. The season is essentially over for the Clippers but it would be interesting to see how much fight they have left for Game 4 which is a back-to-back on Sunday night. If Coach Pop rests his players, then maybe the Clippers could avoid the sweep.

#ThunderStrikesAgain #BlownLead
Another comeback in Staples Center in the night game, another loss by the home team. The Lakers blew a 13-point lead and suffered a 25-9 run by the Thunder at the end to lose by three. Russell Westbrook was superb as he got the Thunder close with his 37 points and 5 assists although he fell asleep on defense a few times (allowing Steve Blake an offensive rebound and a layup). Then Kevin Durant took over in the clutch (ignoring the fact he missed 2 fts) hitting a turnaround jumper on Kobe to tie the game and then hitting a dagger three at the top of the key for the lead. This loss was very disappointing for the Lakers' fans because they started strong with Bynum attacking the paint early and Sessions driving to the hoop. That strategy faded in the second half as Kobe dominated the ball and took most of the shots (12-28). The Lakers became more perimeter-oriented as Artest, Blake and Barnes were jacking up long shots instead of pounding the ball in the paint. The shots were not falling often enough and Bynum got lost in their offense (2 fts taken). Very close game at the end and this series could have been Lakers 3-1 but they are down and Game 5 is on Monday at OKC.

#KidClutch #Kobe #Russell
Westbrook is a great player but he cant close the game for the Thunder. Russell did an awesome job in keeping the Thunder within striking distance as he went mano-a-mano with Kobe in the second half. A few times I wondered if Westbrook was going to pass the ball to Durant since he is a better outside shooter but Westbrook barely gave KD a look. This happened about 4-5 times straight but Russell made the shots. That can be ignored and forgiven because the Thunder won the game; thanks to Kid Clutch knocking down shots at the end. Durant made a three for the lead which was almost the same area where he missed a three the night before. As for Kobe, he had another bad shooting night in the fourth going 2-10 with a lot of contested jumpers. He clearly wanted the ball and the shots but maybe a pass in the post to Bynum might have provided a better shot opportunity. Gasol made a bad pass for the turnover that gave Durant the three-point shot but the pass was intended for Kobe because he wanted the ball back.

#Tweet/Quote of the Night
"Kobe missed 8 of 10 shots in the 4th quarter ... but it's Gasol's fault?" - Jemele Hill @jemelehill, ESPN

#Stats #News
  • Spurs are 7-0 in the playoffs; first time in their team history
  • Spurs outscored the Clippers 80-46 in the last 35 minutes
  • The 24-point comeback was the 2nd highest of these playoffs (Clippers had 27)
  • Kobe has 87 30-point games in the playoffs (MJ is first with 109)
  • Young legs of OKC had Durant play 46 minutes and Westbrook at 43
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