Sunday, May 20, 2012

Spurs Semi-Finals Update

I totally should've posted my review of game-2, which was Thursday night, on Friday night, since -duh- our game-3 was early Saturday afternoon. Nevertheless, I'll just do two right here right now.

So in Thursday night's game-2 in San Antonio, the Clippers played us pretty close for most of the 1st half, or at least for the last 15 minutes of the 1st half. It was a half of runs. With the score 10-9, Clips, at around the 7:00 mark, the Spurs went on a 14-0 run, during which the "big-3" scored all 14. So with a 23-10 lead, the Spurs stretched it to 27-12, at which point LA would go on their own 9-2 run to close the 1st-Q 29-21. But this little run continued for 3 more minutes into the 2nd-Q, as it was 29-25 before Splitter finally scored for the Spurs at 9:11 mark - effectively a 13-2 Clippers run.

The 2nd-Q as a whole simply wasn't good period for the Spurs, as we shot 8 of 21 (38%) with several turnovers, while the Clippers put up another semi-solid 21 points. So we took a 46-42 lead to the break.

Similar to game-1, the Spurs came out on all cylinders to begin the 3rd-Q, and everyone was involved. The first 4½ minutes was a 16-5 Spurs' run. Yeah, 16! Our defense was fine as well, but LA shots were also starting to fall (notably Paul & Butler). But it didn't seem to matter, as Spurs felt confident enough to score almost every time down the floor. Danny Green had 10 3rd-Q points as the Spurs put up 32 to 25 from the Clips. The score going into

TP finally got going in game-2 Image Source (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

the 4th-Q was 78-67.

This is when the energy and defense were both taken up a notch. Neal, Splitter, and Diaw would lead another mini-run for most of 5 minutes, at which time the scoreboard read 92-76. Griffin and Evans were getting it done inside, but they had nothing to stop Tony & Tim in the 4th-Q pick-n-roll. Isn't that kind of a common theme this season? The combo would score 8 straight for SA during a 3-min. stretch that saw the lead increased to 19! Patty Mills closed it out for Tony, after a scary late foul Tony took. No idea why he was still in with 2:05 left in what was then a 17-point game.

Spurs beat the Clippers 105-88, after trading baskets a few times, and now lead the series 2-0. And we have now won 16-straight! Griffin had 20 points, but was held to 1 rebound. Chris Paul had another lackluster game with 10 pts. & 5 assts. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 22 on 8 of 19 shooting, with 5 boards and 5 assts. in 37 tough minutes. Timmy had 18 pts., 5 reb., 3 assts., and 2 steals in 33 minutes. Here's ESPN's boxscore..

Games 3 & 4 are Saturday 2:30 & Sunday 9:30 in a DUMB back-to-back in LA..


Game-3 between Spurs & Clippers was at 12:30 Los Angeles local time in Staples Center, beginning a stretch of absolute craziness involving the Lakers, Kings, and themselves. Who didn't think this out clearly enough?

I knew game-3 in hostile territory was our best chance to lose, and as the game began, what I was seeing wasn't really anything I didn't expect. While the very beginning went pretty normal - Tony scores his 3rd bucket to bring the Spurs to within 4 at 13-9, with 7:00 showing on the clock. Over the next SIX minutes none of our shots went down. We had a mere 3 turnovers, but when you combine 9-striaght missed shots with the Clippers' 6 of 9 shooting, the result is a 14-0 run that no one really saw coming. But then again I think we might have. Blake Griffin was getting almost anything he wanted,

Griffin had a career-game Image Source (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

and everyone was feeding off the crazy crowd. So when a couple mid-run Pop-timeouts didn't work, the end of the quarter would have to. But by this time it was 33-11.

When the 2nd-Q got underway, Manu & Neal would hit a few shots, but so would Mo Williams and Nick Young. The lead ballooned to 24 at 40-16 with 9:17 on the clock. So down 24 (DOH!) Pop brought in many new guys, and for us that makes things happen. In just 2 minutes the lead was down to 18. Two minutes later it was 15. Then holding the Clippers to 5 pts. in the final 3:47 of the 1st half, Spurs would get 5 from both Manu & Tony, and 5 more from Diaw & Duncan, and the Clippers' halftime lead was only 10 at 53-43.

So now that it appeared the Spurs were going to, in fact, make it a game, the crowd was much less of a factor to begin the 3rd-Q. Paul hit a jumper, and then after a nice Duncan layup, Griffin would follow it up with his own layup. With 9:38 showing on the clock, and the Clippers leading 57-45, something happened.

For the next 8:13, the Spurs would hold the Clips completely SCORELESS, while themselves netting 24 straight!   During this stretch the Spurs would shoot 10 of 15 (68%), but the Clippers went 0 for 12. And just like that, we now had a 12-pt. lead, 69-57.

Spurs 24-0 run was legendary Image Source (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

They were stuck on 57 for a long, long time. After 3-Q's it was 69-61.

So now that we've outscored them 32-20 in the 2nd-Q, and 26-8 in the 3rd-Q, the crowd wasn't about to let us run away with it. The first 3 minutes or so of the 4th-Q saw back-to-back buckets for both teams.. Leonard's 3rd three, Manu, Splitter, Neal, and for LA it was Griffin & Mo Williams. Pop would take a critical timeout with our lead cut to 7 and 9:14 on the clock. Following the timeout, both defenses were superior, as more than 3 minutes later, our lead was still 8 (scoring was 8-7 for these 3+ minutes).

Tony & Manu were pretty much scoring at will by this point, and neither team could manufacture a serious run. As is often the case late in games against these Spurs, time would simply run out on the Clippers, and five straight FTs would cement the Spurs' win 96-86.

As improbable as it seemed at the time, now that I'm looking back at the stats & play-by-play, it's no surprise that Vinny Del Negro just apparently didn't have any changes to make during his team's 8 minute 3rd-Q drought. He did call one timeout, and there were two substitutions (KMart for DJordan, and later Foye for Butler), but neither of these are moves to initiate an offensive spark for your team. Similar numbers as game-2 for San Antonio, as Tony, Tim & Manu led us again, but this time Kawhi Leonard also had a great game with 14 pts. & 9 reb.

Blake Griffin possibly put together the best game of his short career on this night - he had 28 & 16 on 13 of 24 shooting in 43 long minutes - most of it early on. Chris Paul had 12 pts. & 11 assts., and Mo Williams had a very nice 19. Here's ESPN's full boxscore..

Spurs can end the misery later tonight in game-4 at 9:30 CDT. That would be 17-straight!!

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