Published May 17, 2012
The San Antonio Spurs have been perfect through the postseason so far as they get ready to host the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Chris Paul and Company will take another shot at solving what's looking like a juggernaut.
The Spurs tied a franchise playoff record on Tuesday with 13 three-pointers and never trailed in the second half of their series-opening 108-92 victory.
There were 12 lead changes in a tight first half of Game 1 but the well-rested Spurs opened up a 19-point lead in the third quarter and never looked back.
Tim Duncan led the way with 26 points and 10 rebounds, his 133rd postseason double-double, while Manu Ginobili chipped in 22 points in San Antonio's 15th straight win dating back to the regular season, which included an opening- round sweep of the Utah Jazz.
"Tim was solid as usual," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's played like that all year long. He's not going to do anything that's going to be on a highlight film for TV, but highlight film for coaches possibly. Just being solid, making a great pass, playing the defense that he did, rebounding; he's the anchor."
"It started with the ball movement," Duncan added. "We know they are going to be physical and we know they are going to pack it into the lane. Tony (Parker) did a great job of getting into the lane and finding shooters and obviously our guys shot the ball well."
Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green added 16 and 15 points, respectively while Parker had a bad night from the field, scoring just seven points on 1-of-9 shooting but orchestrated it all with 11 assists.
"He (Kawhi Leonard) seems to have a pretty good knack for the ball," Popovich said. "He makes a steal here and there. He'll get an offensive board here and there. He'll get a block now and then. Obviously, he's a rookie -- he's still figuring out what his game is. He does things that help win basketball games."
The Clippers, two days removed from a Game 7 win in Memphis, were led by Eric Bledsoe's 23 points. Bledsoe went 10-for-16 from the field en route to matching his career-high.
"I just come in and try to help my team in the best way possible, whether it's scoring, playing defense, or whatever," Bledsoe said. "Whatever I need to do to help them win at the end of the day is what I'm going to do."
Caron Butler and Blake Griffin each chipped in 15 points, but Paul, who finished third in the NBA MVP voting and turned this moribund franchise around, netted just six on 3-of-13 shooting, although he did have 10 assists. Griffin, suffering from a sprained left knee, played 28 1/2 minutes and also pulled down nine rebounds.
"We weren't able to slow them [the Spurs] down," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "The tempo was in their favor a lot. We missed a lot of easy shots which got them out in the open court. I thought in the beginning of the game we did a good job in terms of our tempo a little bit."
San Antonio took two of three from the Clippers in 2011-12. The lone L.A. win came in the Alamo City on March 9 when the Clips halted 17-game skid in the Alamo City but Popovich rested Duncan, Parker and Ginobili in that contest.
"If they don't pass the ball to an open man, they're coming out. It's the bottom line. That's the way (Popovich) is coaching," Clippers forward Kenyon Martin said of the Spurs. "They do an excellent job of spreading the floor, making plays, and guys do an excellent job being unselfish."
These two clubs have never met in the postseason previously.
Game 3 of the series will be in Los Angeles on Saturday.