May 21, 2012, 2:52 AM EST
For the Spurs, it was another step toward their goal — they wanted plenty of rest before they take on the Thunder next series (sorry Lakers fans), now will get a week (rumors are the Western Conference Finals start May 28).
For the Clippers, this was school — Chris Paul does not want to admit it, but teams learn how to win in the NBA. They run into a wall in the playoffs, learn what they need to improve (or sometimes what kind of players to add) and then next season take the next step.
Sunday night was the end of this school year for the Clippers, the Spurs swept them out of the second round of the playoffs in the closest game of this series by far, 102-99. The win advances the Spurs to the Western Conference finals, where they will take on the Thunder, unless you believe in Lakers miracles (Thunder lead that series heading home for Game 5 Monday). No starting date for the next round has been set.
Winning is a process in the NBA, one the Spurs have down and the Clippers are figuring out.
“Just learning, just watching that team maneuver,” L.A. guard Randy Foye said. “And understanding how they execute game plans, and what they do is definitely something you can take from it…
“Just watching guys like (Manu Ginobili), just watching guys like (Tony Parker), just watching how they maneuver, how they continue to attack — they’re down 1, they’re down 10, they’re up 10 they just continue to keep the pressure on and keep the defense on their heels. Tim Duncan does that, too. That is something I will definitely take from this.”
The Clippers seemed to be learning and improving in this series. In Game 4 their offense seemed to attack the Spurs defense the best it had in any of the games. But then, when it got to the end of the game, the Spurs were able to get a couple stops. The Clippers struggled all series to get stops, with Tim Duncan scoring 21, Tony Parker 17 and the Spurs as a team shooting 52.8 percent on the night.
Clippers had the expected rush to start the game, but by five minutes in the relentless Spurs had started to grind them down. At one point in the first half the Spurs led by 12 and were shooting 53 percent to the Clippers 33 percent. The crowd at Staples sounded like it was a Tuesday night February, not a playoff game.
Then the third quarter saw the kind of scrap, fight, and stepping up of their game the Clippers are going to need in future years. They did it behind their stars — Chris Paul had nine points in the third, Blake added 10 and had three dunks in a row. The Clippers were attacking again, Bledsoe was putting on a show again on his way to 18.
Los Angeles was up 92-88 with 4:54 left in the game Reggie Evans checked in for DeAndre Jordan and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich immediately called for hack-a-Reggie — intention fouls to send him to the free throw line. It worked, just like it did Saturday — Evans missed both free throws and Vinny Del Negro had to call a timeout to get him out of the game for a decent free throw shooter. When the Clippers needed a three with 1.7 seconds left, the Clippers didn’t have a time out to use to set up a play or advance the ball.
“It worked. It worked,” said Manu Ginobili. “In Game 3 it was huge, today it was less times, we did it only twice, but they had to make changes, they had to call a time out and it really helped us.”
The Clippers hung in until the end, down 1 with :11 seconds to go Paul drove the lane but he lost control on what appeared to be a kickout pass, with the Spurs Danny Green draped all over him. It was a turnover and it was the ballgame.
To a man the Spurs talked about wanting the rest that is coming their way now. They know their next series will be a physical challenge beyond what they have yet seen.
The Clippers were taken to school, but like any education what really matters is how they apply it next time around.
Dec 21, 2013, 12:17 AM EST
The Knicks have gotten killed in their home games this season that have begun with an early 12 noon tip-off, and head coach Mike Woodson is willing to try anything to avoid yet another embarrassing performance and disastrous result. New York hosts the Memphis Grizzlies at 12 noon at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, but…
Dec 20, 2013, 10:51 PM EST
When the Nets played the Sixers just four days ago in Brooklyn, they won by 36 points and honestly, the game wasn’t even that close. Things were different Friday night in Philadelphia, however, and it had everything to do with the available personnel. Kevin Garnett took this game off as a day of rest, and…
Dec 20, 2013, 9:36 PM EST
One of the first lessons a rookie can learn in the NBA is which players not to try to take a charge against. LeBron James has to be near the top of that list, but Kings rookie Ben McLemore gave it a shot anyway on Friday night in Miami. He chose … poorly. LeBron elevated…
Dec 20, 2013, 8:29 PM EST
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Dec 20, 2013, 7:28 PM EST
Dion Waiters — the Cavaliers second-leading scorer and a guy on the trade block according to reports — will be out Friday night against the Bucks and maybe longer due to a sore wrist. He has wrist tendonitis that had bothered him for a while but he had played through it — he had 25…
Dec 20, 2013, 6:29 PM EST
We had Rob Dauster of NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk on the PBT Podcast recently and when the topic of Jabari Parker came up Dauster mentioned Carmelo Anthony — a polished scorer with the ability to play the four, score inside, or stretch the floor out to the arc. Dauster isn’t the only one to say that, it’s…
Dec 20, 2013, 5:05 PM EST
Yesterday we passed along the report that before Philadelphia had starting shopping Thaddeus Young around he had gone to the team and asked for a trade. He didn’t want to be part of a rebuilding process. If you’ve watched how this game was played with others guys trying to get moved then you knew what…
Dec 20, 2013, 4:07 PM EST
The last time we saw French center Alexis Ajinca in an NBA game it was 2011 with the Raptors. He had been a bit player with Dallas and Charlotte before that. Now he’s back getting another shot with the New Orleans Pelicans, reports the Times Picayune. The New Orleans Pelicans have reached a two-year contract…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:55 PM EST
There is no bigger story at the start of this NBA season than the Portland Trail Blazers — they are 22-5, tied with the Thunder for the best record in the West, and the Blazers have by far the best offense in the NBA. Which makes them a whole lot of fun to watch. Portland’s…
Dec 20, 2013, 2:10 PM EST
You can own a shoe that has kicked Chris Paul in the face. And who doesn’t want that? Remember the play from Nov. 19 — Tony Allen went into the air, got burned by CP3 something fierce, and in an effort to make a play and kick the ball away he caught Paul across the…
Dec 20, 2013, 1:28 PM EST
Plenty of NBA players have wanted to knock down a referee. D.J. Augustin now of the Bulls (he just signed with them in the wake of the Derrick Rose injury) did so Thursday night, albeit unintentionally. Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson and Augustin were chasing down a loose ball and Jackson went for the soccer play…
Dec 20, 2013, 12:51 PM EST
This could be fun: Deron Williams vs. Michael Carter-Williams. Looks like we will get to see it because Michael Carter-Williams is set to return to the Sixers lineup Friday night after missing seven straight games with a knee infection. Officially he is a game time decision — because teams like to keep their options open…
Dec 20, 2013, 12:10 PM EST
Luol Deng isn’t going anywhere fast — and we don’t just mean because he’s in a walking boot right now trying to rest his Achilles (he hopes to be back Christmas Day). We mean on the trade market. Ever since Derrick Rose went down injured it has been the conventional wisdom that the Bulls would…
Dec 20, 2013, 11:45 AM EST
The 76ers have lost seven straight, 11 of 12 and 15 of 17. After a 3-0 start threatened Sam Hinkie’s plans – and kept Philadelphia in the heart of the playoff race far too long in the downtrodden Eastern Conference – the 76ers are right back on track. They’re losing and losing often, putting themselves…
Dec 20, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
Robin Lopez and Brook Lopez do not look alike, at least not completely. Robin, the Trail Blazers’ center sports a wild afro. His twin brother, Brook, the Nets’ center, has a closer crop. But is that why they don’t look alike now? Did Robin grow out his hair to look distinct from Brook? Robin, via…
Dec 20, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
Kobe Bryant didn’t mince words, and neither did Charles Barkley. “Only an idiot would” doubt his resolve to return, Kobe said. “Kobe Bryant shouldn’t play anymore this year,” Barkley said. Kobe is definitely right, and Barkley might be right. Nobody should even consider that Kobe won’t work as hard as he can to get back…
Serge Ibaka blocks Joakim Noah twice on same possession, leads to a transition three from Durant (VIDEO)
Dec 20, 2013, 10:14 AM EST
These are the kinds of plays that are absolute back-breakers for teams playing on the road, because it gets the crowd involved and swings all of the momentum in the home team’s favor. Serge Ibaka comes up with two blocks on Joakim Noah on the same possession, which is highlight-worthy by itself. But the fact…
Jeff Van Gundy says it would be ‘ludicrous’ for Knicks to fire Mike Woodson after timeout failure vs. Wizards
Dec 20, 2013, 9:31 AM EST
After the Knicks lost to the Wizards earlier this week by coming undone on the game’s final two possessions, there were some observers that believed Mike Woodson should finally take the fall for his role in not only that particular loss, but also how his team had underachieved to this point in the season. New…
Dec 20, 2013, 8:44 AM EST
In the NBA, guys often have good friends on the opposing team — guys they played with in AAU or college, guys who share an agent, guys they work out with in the summer. There is a camaraderie. Kendrick Perkins is old school, weaned on the Kevin Garnett “I hate the guys on the other…
Dec 20, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
In the early days of mixed martial arts, there were quite a few athletes who would refuse to submit in the ring. Their arm could be on the verge of snapping, but it didn’t matter – they wouldn’t give up. They would rather break their arm. I remember holding these athletes in such high regard,…
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