With all the hoopla surrounding the Clippers and Spurs series—because after all, both games prior were microcosmic of playoff basketball wherein getting lost in the anticipation of the game is nearly universal—there was to be some sort of drop off given the insurmountable hype came up after Game 2.
And boy, was there a drop off.
Even Spurs guard Tony Parker was able to shake off the rust that stemmed from missing big moments during the previous two games. Parker, who was sent back to the locker room on multiple occasions in both games at Staples Center, proved to be almost as productive as Chris Paul. As the clock expired and ushered in halftime, both guards were reflections of one another statistically. Parker had 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists while Paul posted 5 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.
The point guard equilibrium was partly caused by a larger problem in Paul and the Clippers’ inability to get going offensively from the start, as the Spurs began the game on a 9-2 run. The offensive maladies resulted kept the Clippers down for the entire half. Still, despite the poor shooting from virtually everyone except Griffin—who was the only Clipper to post double-digits before the half—the Clippers were surprisingly still in the game.
Unfortunately, any gleam of hope subsided almost immediately as the Spurs extended their lead with authority in the third. Every fundamental move in the game by the Clippers, whether a simple layup or a pass to the arc, that should have been completed with ease saw a Spurs’ hand prevent it. The Clippers scored only 11 points in the third quarter, their lowest-scoring quarter of the year. As a whole. the team only managed to hit 34 percent of their shots. During the game, that percentage dipped as low as 28 percent which sounds more like a poor three-point percentage.
The fourth quarter had something oddly foreign, garbage time, which was almost upsetting given that fans have been accustomed to the intensity moments that the series has provided until then. Kawhi Leonard was the focal point of the Spurs’ offense as he scored 32 points, fresh off the recent announcement that he won this season’s Defensive Player of the Year award. In this game, he showed he was more than that; he was shades of the player who won Finals MVP last year.
With the Game 3 win, the momentum is unequivocally on the side of the San Antonio Spurs. Looking at this game without taking the other two in consideration, you wouldn’t believe that these two teams were separated by only one game in the standings.
One notably quiet factor in this game even with the 27-point lead was Tim Duncan. After leading the Spurs with 28 points in Game 2, one would think that he would continue his run or, at the very least, be an integral role in the Game 3 win. But these are the Spurs; productive players are aplenty. Duncan scored only 4 points. Duncan, who is turning 39, on Saturday can rest easy in preparation for Sunday’s g\Game 4.
Happy birthday Tim Duncan. Enjoy a Kawhi Leonard alley-oop.