The Los Angeles Clippers came out hard, but no team is playing better than the San Antonio Spurs right now. The Spurs used a 21-0 run in the third quarter to erase a 24-point deficit from the first half. This team is plain scary right now, as they handed the Clippers a crushing 96-86 defeat in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals.
The Spurs are undefeated in the postseason.
Blake Griffin showed up this game, but he couldn't stop the Spurs' 24-0 run in the third quarter, and that stint gave the Spurs control of the game.
The Clippers simply couldn't buy a bucket in the third, and they trailed by eight going into the fourth.
Here is a deeper look at the game, starting with the Twitter story.
Tweets of the Night
Griffin only had one rebound in Game 2, and you better believe people noticed. This tweet from someone called I Say What They Can't—yeah him—chimed in quickly on Blake's Game 3 rebounding numbers:
Blake already has more rebounds than he did in Game 2 #NBAPlayoffs, and he has 2— I Say What They Cant (@ISAYWHTTHYCANT) May 19, 2012
Inside Hoops gave us this to sum up the Spurs "plan" in Game 3:
ESPN's J.A. Adande seemed to be otherwise distracted, or likening the Spurs dissecting of the Clippers to a calculated murder with this reference:
What the Spurs are doing to the Clippers reminds me: I need to download Season 3 of "Dexter" to the ipad before I hit the road again.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 19, 2012
As usual, the Spurs didn't have any eye-popping highlights, they left that to Lob City. The Spurs will be happy with winning the game. That said, Blake did consume Tim Duncan on this play (small consolation):
Grades for Key Clippers Players
Blake Griffin: B+
Blake had a huge first half, but he was unable to make his presence felt in the pivotal third quarter. He brought it in the fourth, but the team couldn't get enough stops in the final quarter. Griffin gave great effort, but like most of his teammates, he went cold at the wrong time. He finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds.
Chris Paul: C-
CP3 facilitated well with 11 assists, but he couldn't shoot a Skittle into the ocean Saturday afternoon, finishing the day on 5-of-17 shooting. He missed several wide open shots, and this hurt his team more than his passing helped.
Grades for Key Spurs Players
Kawhi Leonard: A+
Leonard was huge on offense and defense. He used his length against Paul and others, and he knocked down two huge three-pointers.
His energy was instrumental in the third-quarter run.
Tony Parker: B+
Parker had a solid game (23 points and 10 assists) but not a great day. He facilitated well, but it wasn't one of his better games of these playoffs.
Deciding Factor: Clippers' Terrible Shooting in the Third Quarter
Will the Spurs win the NBA title?
The Clippers couldn't hit the broad side of a barn in the third, and it killed them. The Spurs played solid defense, and they executed well on offense, but the Clips missed wide open shots as well and lost the quarter 26 to eight.
This sequence cost them the slim chance they had at competing in this series.
Game MVP: Leonard
He had solid stats (14 points, nine rebounds), but his energy was key. The Spurs stars had good games, but no player had a bigger Impact on the outcome of this game than the Spurs forward.
Doom and gloom if you're the Clippers. I can't see them having another first quarter like they did in this one. This was a demoralizing loss, and this team is dead in the water.
The Spurs will wrap up the sweep Sunday night. Game 4 is set for 10:30 pm ET at Staples Center.
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