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Clippers-Spurs Game 3: Surprise! The Spurs are better.

May 19, 2012, 6:33 PM EDT

San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan spreads his arms during a stop in play during their NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Texas Reuters

It’s over. Or, it may as well be.

The Spurs could have won Game 3 in the usual, undramatic, calm, cool, collected 15-point cruise victory they have every other game since April 11th, but this is honestly almost worse. The Clippers held a 24-point lead in the second quarter.

They lost, 96-86. The Spurs at one point rattled off a 24-0 run. It was a debacle. It was a meltdown. It was a collapse, a chokejob, a massive failure, and it shows the wide gap between these two teams in terms of class. The Spurs were never rattled being down 24, never looked down. Relaxed, calm, confident. Chipped away at the lead, got it within reasonable distance, then burned past them. And the reason’s pretty simple. They’re better. Much better. They were better before the series, they’ve been better during the series, and it says a lot about both teams.

The Clipppers beat the Grizzlies behind a series of bizarre circumstances. Reggie Evans hit 50 percent from the line in 3 of the 7 games. The Clippers offense was lights out. Memphis’ offense was both hobbled and independently terrible. The Clippers never really had a chance in this series because in a lot of ways, they never should have gotten past Memphis. Give the credit for playing to and above their reasonable ptoential to advance, but this is who they are. A team down 3-0, who gave up a 24-point lead at home in a little over a quarter of play.

There’s talk of the Spurs resting starters in Game 4, to save energy on a back to back for Duncan and the Big 3. But it’s extremely unlikely given Popovich’s respect for his opponent and the fact that you don’t want to risk aggravating the Clippers to the point they start fighting for their lives. The Spurs have them on the edge of oblivion and the Clippers know it. No reason to force feed them hope through anger.

The Clippers can start looking to next year. Chris Paul will watch the Lakers continue to play at least one more game in all likelihood as the team he landed with is exposed for needing contributions at both ends from Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin. Nick Young will hopefully develop, Mo Williams may be set free to bring in better wing depth, Caron Butler‘s hand will heal, and Blake Griffin must, absolutely must, develop a better offensive set.

How did the Spurs come back? Well, they shot 30 percent for the first 14 minutes and 40 seconds. They shot 53 percent the rest of the time. The Clippers shot 64 percent that first 14:40. They shot 38 percent the rest of the time. The Spurs just defended better and hit shots. Really as simple as that. Kawhi Leonard changed the complexion of the game with corner threes, hustle steals, breakaway points, and working off-ball for easy looks. The rookie continues to impress as a player who does anything asked of him. Tim Duncan adjusted to Blake Griffin’s moves after a hot start, at one point blocking a driving dunk attempt from Griffin. It was a lesson from the master to the young gun, and hopefully Griffin will learn how to play better in the playoffs.

So the Spurs are up 3-0, and the series may as well be over. The only real thing we’ve learned from Game 3 is what we knew before: the Clippers aren’t ready, and the Spurs are in a class all their own.

  1. furio2929 - May 19, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    Great comeback. The real test is yet to come for da spurs.

  2. raidmagic - May 19, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    The Clips got too excited too early. No way to substsain that kind of energy and that frantic crowd for 48 minutes. Oh yeah…and the Spurs are just better

  3. tampajoey - May 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    Spurs are for real. They have a great chance of winning it all.

    • passerby23 - May 19, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      Not only a chance to win it all, but have to be heavily favored at this point. They’re deep, experienced, can score, defend, are unselfish, and have homecourt the rest of the way. The Thunder might be able to match up with them talent-wise, but the Spurs will not beat themselves the way the Thunder do. The Heat at full strength might’ve been a good series, but I don’t see anyone competing with them at this point.

  4. liljere24 - May 19, 2012 at 6:49 PM

    Thanks for stating the obvious.

  5. mitchem85 - May 19, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    “ptoential”…. seriously??

    that’s nice… anyways, the clippers are a young team still learning how to win. give them props for getting this.far

  6. abchome - May 19, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Chris Paul has been struggling since injured in Game 5 of last series. The Clippers have no chance against the Spurs, by far the best team right now, without Chris Paul in “God Mode”.

  7. justprofit84 - May 19, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    The Spurs cant beat the thunder. They run too much for them and Perkins can stop Duncan below the rim cautious playing style. Lenard can’t guard durant

  8. rosesacl - May 19, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    blake can’t hit a free throw but he can do a kia commercial better than anybody…

  9. edwardsro - May 19, 2012 at 8:26 PM

    Paul should have held out for the Lakers

  10. detroitcityryda - May 19, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Spurs rallied back from 24 points down it was a letdown,a 2008 economic collapse,a choke job ….it was a Lebron James

    • passerby23 - May 20, 2012 at 7:44 AM

      I don’t think they “choked,” they just got outplayed by the better team who were fired up after probably being chewed out by their coach at halftime. Yes, 8 third quarter points is pretty pathetic, but it’s hard to call it choking when the better team beats you.

  11. burnsy - May 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    Go Clipppers!

  12. furio2929 - May 19, 2012 at 8:56 PM

    rosesacl- Blake is not only a good actor for KIA , but also a great actor, I mean flopper on da court. Gooooood actor!

  13. furio2929 - May 19, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Oh and by the way. Spurs gonna get the 5th ring this year. The bench can score 60p a game alone.

  14. obijuan13 - May 19, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    They can’t FLOP their way out of this one!

  15. Justin - May 20, 2012 at 1:35 AM

    Where is Kurt’s story about Chris Paul’s second half PER that is so much more dominant than everyone elses.

  16. davecotuit - May 20, 2012 at 2:49 AM

    i love the clippers but, let s face it, for as long as donald t sterling has owned that team and for as long as he continues to own the team, the clippers have been crap and they will continue to be crap.

    and that s just the way it is.

  17. funktron2x - May 20, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    LeBron shot 50% from the field in the final 2 minutes of games this year, by far the best in the league. No, this was a Kobe. 2-10, jacking up absurd, challenged shots like he’s 21 again.

  18. mungman69 - May 20, 2012 at 5:34 AM

    Spurs Thunder Pretty Good

    • kavika6 - May 20, 2012 at 6:14 AM

      Spurs and Thunder. The REAL NBA Finals.

  19. daniel10017 - May 20, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    So they must find a head coach who will develop Blake Griffin better because Vinny Del Negro is certainly not it.

  20. j0esixpack - May 20, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    bozosforall’s much heralded Spurs/Heat prediction is looking as wobbly as his sanity and sexuality

  21. j0esixpack - May 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Spurs fans might want to ask themselves if they expect to beat the Thunder spotting them a 24 point lead.

    I’m not thinking the Thunder is a team that would let another team rattle off 24 points either.

    It’s one thing to do that against the Clippers but that’s not something to count on the the conference finals or championship

  22. lemfax - May 20, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Tim this season is belong to you. Make your final year unforgettable. Another ring for the best forward of the NBA.

  23. 1historian - May 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    This reminds me of a game during the 1986 season. The Celtics were playing the hawks in Atlanta and the Hawks were WAY ahead – 25 points or so – in the 1st half, and they were bad-mouthing the Celts, etc.

    Come the 2nd half the Celts started chipping away at the lead and they got it down to single digits, then they tied it. With less than 2 seconds to go Dominique gets fouled. If he makes the foul-shot the Hawks win. He steps to the line, Larry Bird catches his eye,

    Larry gives him the choke sign.


    The game goes to OT.

    Celts win. As in – been-there-done-that.

    Anyone who wishes to counter by citing the Celts’ meltdown against the Knicks on Christmas Day 1985 – go for it.

    • jimeejohnson - May 20, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      The battle between Wilkins and Bird was, perhaps, the most epic of all time. Believe me, Dominique went home bummed that night. Bird won most of the battles, and some of the wars. You put them on the same team and they go undefeated! Those guys were the greatest!

  24. mat9844 - May 20, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    It was fun watching the Clips play all season; do I wish they were doing better in the playoffs? Of course, and I’m sure they do, too. That doesn’t take away from all the games that went before – lots of excitement, lobs and personalities to make it entertaining. Wait ’til next year. Chauncy will be back. In the meantime, OKC will take care of the playoffs.

  25. furio2929 - May 20, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Yea it was fun watching Blake posterizing players. Unfortunately , the fun entertainment we saw from the Clips this year does not win u championships. They will need their players to play harder and stay healthy to get a ring not showmanship. The Western conference is going to be tough, but I think the Spurs have it in them to win the championship.

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