Spurs sweep Clippers
By Sports Network
|San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) and point guard Tony Parker (9) celebrate their win against the Los Angeles Clippers during Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference semi-final playoff basketball game in Los Angeles, California, May 20, 2012. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
Tim Duncan led six Spurs in double digits with 21 points and nine rebounds as San Antonio completed the series sweep of the Los Angeles Clippers, 102-99, in the Western Conference semifinals.
Tony Parker added 17 points, Danny Green and Gary Neal finished with 14 points apiece and Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter each contributed 11 points for San Antonio, which earned its second consecutive series sweep in these playoffs and won its 18th straight game overall, including the regular season.
The Spurs will next face the winner of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers series in the Western final. Oklahoma City holds a 3-1 advantage in that series.
Chris Paul had 23 points and 11 assists to pace the Clippers, while Blake Griffin, who received four stitches in his lip at halftime after colliding with Ginobili's shoulder late in the second quarter, finished with 21 points and five rebounds.
The Clippers held a 75-74 lead entering the fourth after a back-and-forth third quarter and the teams continued to trade blows in the fourth.
Neither team was able to take a lead larger than four points in the frame until Eric Bledsoe scored five straight points to give the Clippers an 88-82 lead at the midpoint of the quarter.
San Antonio, though, responded with a 10-4 run to tie the game at 92 on Green's three-pointer.
Paul later followed a Duncan runner with a three-point play to hand Los Angeles a 97-96 lead with 2:27 left in the game, but Parker answered on the other end with a layup and the Clippers would not lead again.
Paul drove to the lane on the Clippers' ensuing possession and put up a layup, but the attempt was blocked by Duncan, leading to a Parker jumper to give the Spurs a three-point lead.
Each team would come up empty on the next two possessions before a pair of free throws by Paul brought LA within 100-99 with 52 seconds left in the game.
Parker's runner on San Antonio's next touch rimmed out and the Clippers had a chance to go back on top, but Paul was caught in the air on a drive attempt and his errant kick-out pass was grabbed by the Spurs.
Green then hit the front end of two foul shots to make it a 101-99 game.
Coming out of a timeout with 10.5 seconds left, Paul's off-balanced shot from in close fell off the front of the rim and Duncan grabbed the rebound to seal the victory for San Antonio.
After a 7-0 spurt by the Clippers gave them the early advantage near the four- minute mark of the first period, San Antonio answered with 14 straight points to go on top, 18-9.
Randy Foye put an end to the run with a long jumper to spark a 10-2 swing by Los Angeles that cut its deficit to one, but the Spurs closed out the first scoring six of the final eight points to hold a 26-21 advantage.
San Antonio carried that momentum into the second, following Mo Williams' three-point play with a 13-5 run to stretch its lead up to 41-29.
The Spurs maintained their double-digit advantage over the next three minutes until a 7-0 push by Los Angeles brought the Clippers within 45-40.
A pair of Parker free throws followed by a Ginobili floater gave San Antonio back some cushion, but the Spurs would not make another shot from the floor in the half while Los Angeles reeled off a 7-2 run to make it a 51-47 game at the break.
The teams then traded shots in a third quarter that saw seven lead changes and four ties.
San Antonio held the largest lead in the frame when Duncan's jumper gave the Spurs a 72-67 advantage with less than three minutes remaining, but the Clippers recorded the next six points to take a one-point lead and Bledsoe's putback dunk after a Parker floater gave Los Angeles a 75-74 edge entering the fourth quarter.
The Spurs have not lost since April 11 to the Lakers and their 8-0 record in the playoffs includes a sweep of Utah in the first round...Bledsoe finished with 17 points for the Clippers....Los Angeles scored 24 points off 16 San Antonio turnovers...The Spurs shot 52.8 percent from the floor, including a 6- for-15 mark from three-point range...The Clippers shot 47.7 percent in the game and connected on 4-of-16 three-point attempts.