Spurs close out Clippers to sweep series 4-0
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs are on to the Western Conference finals, along with their 18-game winning streak and 8-0 mark in the playoffs.
They rallied in the closing minutes behind Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 102-99 on Sunday night and wrap up the second-round series 4-0.
"We needed a game like that. It arrived at the perfect time," Parker said. "We battled. We executed our plays, made big baskets."
Now they wait to find out their next opponent. Oklahoma City took a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.
"All these teams know each other pretty well, so I don't think there will be a huge surprise for anybody no matter who we play," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Duncan scored 21 points, Parker added 17, Danny Green and Gary Neal had 14 each, and Ginobili and Thiago Splitter had 11 each as the Spurs overcame a six-point deficit in the fourth quarter after leading by 12 earlier in the game.
Their playoff winning streak is tied for third-best in franchise history. Not that either streak is a topic among the team.
"It doesn't exist for us," Popovich said. "We don't talk about it. It is not even a thought in our minds."
The Spurs' experience and guile was foremost in withstanding the Clippers' second-half pressure. San Antonio trailed much of the fourth until tying the game twice in the final 3:32. The 30-something trio of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili combined to score nine of the team's final 10 points.
"Their experience showed with their execution," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "Tim looks great and the rest of the guys are feeding off that."
Chris Paul had 23 points and 11 assists, Blake Griffin added 21 points, and Eric Bledsoe had 17 for the Clippers.
Paul faltered in the final two minutes, usually a time when the All-Star guard is at his best.
Both nursing injuries, Griffin and Paul combined to score 21 of the Clippers' 28 points in the third quarter when they took their first lead of the game. In the fourth, Bledsoe came up big, scoring 11 in a row, to extend the lead to 90-85 with 5:38 remaining.
After Reggie Evans missed two free throws, Green hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 92.
Duncan's hook put the Spurs in front 96-94 before Paul tossed up a one-handed shot that rose to the top of the backboard before dropping straight in as he crashed into a baseline photographer. He made the free throw to put the Clippers ahead by one.