(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs will try to eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers as this thrilling first-round series returns to the AT&T Center for Game 6.
The defending champion Spurs took a 3-2 series lead on Tuesday with a 111-107 victory in Los Angeles in Game 5. It was San Antonio's second win at Staples Center in this series.
Tim Duncan continued his sensational play on Tuesday with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard finished with 18 points and nine rebounds -- none bigger than his pull in the closing seconds that secured the win.
"One would assume that experience probably helps you, but not enough when players are making plays," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Manu Ginobili scored 14 points, while Tony Parker and Patty Mills each added 13 points for the Spurs.
Blake Griffin scored 21 of his 30 points in the first half and pulled down 14 rebounds to lead the Clippers. Chris Paul had 19 points and 10 assists and DeAndre Jordan registered 21 points and 14 rebounds.
With under a minute left, Duncan turned Griffin away on a drive to the basket and Parker made 1-of-2 from the line to give the Spurs a 108-105 lead with 48.5 seconds left.
Griffin missed both free throws on the Clippers' next possession and Jamal Crawford was off the mark on a 3-pointer after a Paul rebound. Matt Barnes, who corralled another offensive board on the trip, made two free throws to cut the deficit to one.
Leonard drove and kicked to a wide open Danny Green, who missed the 3-pointer, and Barnes grabbed the rebound with 6.9 seconds left. Out of a timeout, Griffin attempted a floater in the lane that was rolling around the rim when Jordan nicked the ball as it was on the cylinder for offensive goaltending.
Green made the first free throw, missed the second and Leonard came down with a timely rebound before sealing the victory with two from the stripe.
"You think about the playoffs and they are single-possession games," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Leonard tipped in a Parker miss, Paul was given a technical foul and Green converted the free throw for a 98-94 lead with 4:48 remaining in the game. Duncan hit nothing but net on the next time down the floor to increase the margin to six.
Paul quickly got a layup to go for the Clippers, but Leonard found a wide open Boris Diaw for a 3-pointer that helped San Antonio to a 103-96 lead with 3:35 left. The spread remained seven when Paul recorded a three-point play prior to Griffin feeding Jordan for a dunk which forced a Spurs timeout.
"Two really competitive groups, with a missed shot here and a missed shot there that it really comes down to. It really goes back and forth like that, that's why it's called a game," Popovich said.
Game 7, if needed, will be Saturday night in Los Angeles. If San Antonio advances on Thursday, it will face the Southwest-rival Houston Rockets in round two, starting Monday in Houston.