Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Duncan-led Spurs rally to build edge

LOS ANGELES — Nothing was going to rattle the calm, cool and collected Spurs. Not even a 24-point deficit.

Tim Duncan scored 19, helping engineer a 24-0 run in the third quarter, and San Antonio defeated the Clippers 96-86 Saturday to take a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal.

"We didn't plan on being down that much," said Duncan, who at 36 is after the team's fifth title and first since 2006-07. "We stuck with it."

Led by Tony Parker's 23 points and his defense on Chris Paul, the Spurs kept running their plays even as Blake Griffin's early assault put them in a hole. Griffin scored 20 and carried his team to a 24-point lead despite a left hip injury and a sprained right knee.

"They came out like we expected, very strong. Blake was making crazy shots," Parker said. "We just took our time. It's a long game, a very long game."

Griffin finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds for the Clippers, who face daunting NBA history heading into Game 4. No team has rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

"If we don't play with that sense of urgency, it's not going to be pretty," Griffin said.

After a first half in which he scored eight, Duncan helped the Spurs control the third quarter when they outscored Los Angeles 26-8. The Spurs took their first lead during the 24-0 run on a fadeaway jumper by Duncan, who scored nine in the outburst.

"When they spread the floor and Tim Duncan runs a high pick-and-roll, it's trouble for a lot of teams," Griffin said.

Game 4 scheduled for 10:30 tonight, could be moved to Monday if the hockey game between the Kings and Coyotes, scheduled earlier in the day at the arena, goes multiple overtime periods and delays the NBA start too much, an NBA spokesman told ESPN.com.

SAN ANTONIO (96): Leonard 5-7 1-1 14, Duncan 8-16 3-5 19, Diaw 2-6 0-0 5, Parker 8-20 6-9 23, Green 3-6 0-0 7, Neal 2-5 2-3 7, Ginobili 4-9 4-5 13, Splitter 2-2 1-2 5, Bonner 1-4 0-0 3, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Mills 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-76 17-25 96.

L.A. CLIPPERS (86): Butler 0-2 0-0 0, Griffin 13-24 2-2 28, Jordan 2-4 0-2 4, Paul 5-17 2-2 12, Foye 3-7 0-0 7, Martin 0-2 0-0 0, Williams 8-12 2-2 19, Bledsoe 1-1 0-0 2, Young 4-10 0-0 9, Evans 1-1 3-10 5, Simmons 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-80 9-18 86.

San Antonio 11 32 26 27— 96

L.A. Clippers 33 20 8 25— 86

3-Point GoalsSan Antonio 9-22 (Leonard 3-5, Diaw 1-2, Green 1-2, Ginobili 1-3, Parker 1-3, Bonner 1-3, Neal 1-4), Clippers 3-9 (Williams 1-1, Foye 1-1, Young 1-5, Paul 0-2). Fouled OutNone. ReboundsSan Antonio 47 (Duncan 13), Clippers 54 (Griffin 16). AssistsSan Antonio 27 (Parker 10), Clippers 22 (Paul 11). Total FoulsSan Antonio 19, Clippers 23. A19,060.

Heat refocuses

INDIANAPOLIS — Refreshed in body and spirit, the Heat returned to practice reunited and refocused. No heartfelt apologies given. No need for an autopsy of Dwyane Wade's ugly sideline exchange with coach Eric Spoelstra in Game 3.

"We move on," Wade said.

Down 2-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Pacers, Heat players were on the floor Saturday after staying away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse for a day to decompress after a 94-75 loss. Game 4 is today.

On Friday, Wade drove to Bloomington and visited Indiana coach Tom Crean, his college coach at Marquette. LeBron James went to the movies.

Wade, who scored five on 2-of-13 shooting and had five turnovers, insists the spat with Spoelstra was overblown. "A lot of stuff in our game is in the heat of the battle, emotional-type things," Wade said. "There's no harm done."

Meanwhile, Pacers reserve guard Lance Stephenson apologized for making a choking gesture toward James after the Miami star missed a free throw after a technical in Game 3.

"Lance Stephenson? You want a quote about Lance Stephenson?" James replied when asked for a reaction at practice. "I'm not even going to give him the time. Knock it off."

Thunder pushes Lakers to the brink

LOS ANGELES — Russell Westbrook scored 37 and Kevin Durant added 31 and the Thunder overcame 38 from Kobe Bryant to win Game 4 103-100 late Saturday and take a 3-1 Western Conference series edge.

A night before, Bryant made 18 free throws without a miss and scored 14 of his 36 in the fourth quarter as the Lakers rallied for a 99-96 victory Friday, cutting the Thunder's West semifinal series lead to 2-1.

The Lakers said the 41-for-42 performance at the line was the second-best in playoff history for teams with more than 30 attempts. Only Dallas' 49-for-50 effort against San Antonio on May 19, 2003, was better.

OKLAHOMA CITY (96): Durant 12-23 6-6 31, Ibaka 4-10 0-0 8, Perkins 2-5 2-2 6, Westbrook 7-18 7-8 21, Sefolosha 1-5 0-0 3, Harden 4-13 11-12 21, Fisher 2-7 0-0 4, Collison 1-1 0-0 2, Mohammed 0-1 0-0 0, Cook 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-83 26-28 96.

L.A. LAKERS (99): World Peace 3-10 2-2 10, Gasol 4-8 4-4 12, Bynum 2-13 11-12 15, Sessions 5-9 2-2 12, Bryant 9-25 18-18 36, Hill 0-0 2-2 2, Blake 4-5 2-2 12, Barnes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-70 41-42 99.

Oklahoma City 15 32 23 26— 96

L.A. Lakers 23 27 19 30— 99

3-Point GoalsOKC 4-17 (Harden 2-5, Sefolosha 1-3, Durant 1-4, Fisher 0-1, Ibaka 0-1, Westbrook 0-3), LA 4-11 (Blake 2-2, World Peace 2-8, Bryant 0-1). ReboundsOKC 45 (Ibaka 11), LA 51 (Gasol, Bynum 11). AssistsOKC 13 (Sefolosha 4), LA 20 (Bryant, Gasol 6). Total FoulsOKC 30, LA 22. TechnicalsPerkins, Westbrook, World Peace. A18,997


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