LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tim Duncan scored 19 points, helping engineer a 24-0 run in the third quarter after the Spurs trailed by 24 points, and San Antonio defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 96-86 on Saturday to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their second-round playoff series.
Tony Parker added 23 points, rookie Kawhi Leonard 14 and Manu Ginobili 13 to help the top-seeded Spurs win their 17th in a row and improve to 7-0 in the playoffs.
Blake Griffin had 28 points and 16 rebounds, and reserve Mo Williams added 19 points for the Clippers, who face some daunting NBA history heading into Game 4 today at Staples Center. No team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
Playing with a left hip injury and a sprained right knee, Griffin missed just three shots in the first half, when he scored 20 points and the Clippers led by 24. Slowed by a strained right hip, Chris Paul finished with 12 points and 11 assists after two previous sub-par efforts in the series.
After a quiet first half in which he scored eight points, Duncan helped the Spurs control the third quarter when they outscored Los Angeles 26-8.
The Spurs took their first lead during a 23-0 run on a fadeaway jumper by Duncan, who scored nine points in the outburst that put them ahead for good.
Danny Green added seven and Leonard five. The Clippers’ defense completely faltered and they piled up miss after miss on the offensive end.
The Clippers scored the final four points of the period, which ended with a turnover by Mo Williams, to trail 69-61 heading into the fourth.
San Antonio led by 11 points early in the fourth before the Clippers got within seven on consecutive baskets by Williams. Gary Neal hit a 3-pointer to launch a 13-9 spurt, capped by Parker’s 3-pointer, that extended the Spurs’ lead to 89-78. Paul, so dominant in the final period during the regular season, was limited to four points.
Reggie Evans, a defensive spark for the Clippers off the bench, missed 6 of 8 free throws in the final 3:42.
The Spurs were 9 of 22 from 3-point range, with Leonard hitting three.
Los Angeles came in 2-1 at home in the playoffs and 24-9 during the regular season. With their red-clad sellout crowd on its feet, the Clippers were still shooting 63 percent midway through the second quarter, when Griffin’s dunk kept them ahead by 20 points.
The Spurs closed the half on a 15-5 spurt, with Parker and Ginobili scoring five each, to trail 53-43 at the break. Griffin missed just three of his 13 shots in the first half, when the Clippers controlled the boards and the paint.
The Clippers opened the game with a rush, outscoring the Spurs 33-11 while shooting 64 percent. Los Angeles ended the first quarter on a 20-2 run, including 14 in a row. Griffin scored 12 points in the spurt, hitting eight straight while the Spurs committed six turnovers and made just five of 20 field goals.