Sweet 16: Streaking Spurs go up 2-0 on Clippers

Associated Press Modified: May 18, 2012 at 1:01 am •  Published: May 18, 2012
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — On his 30th birthday, Tony Parker first kept the San Antonio Spurs on pace for what might be another lopsided playoff sweep. Then the All-Star who's always quick to needle Tim Duncan about his age finally acknowledged his own.

"I'm old. Used," said Parker, laughing.

Chris Paul, meanwhile, isn't acknowledging anything: Not his aching body that everyone but him is talking about, or the Los Angeles Clippers' season careening toward the end this weekend unless things change fast.

Parker scored 22 points, Duncan had 18 and the Spurs beat the fading Clippers 105-88 on Thursday night, taking a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinals and winning their 16th in a row with yet another playoff blowout.

For the 13th time in a winning streak that seldom run this long in the NBA playoffs, the Spurs won by double digits. Only two other teams have sustained a longer winning streak in the playoffs: the 2004 Spurs (17) and the 2001 Lakers (19).

"I think for us, is to not look at that," Parker said about the streak. "Concentrate on the task. We know Game 3 is going to be very, very hard. I think we should focus on that and not focus on the winning streak, or what we're doing good."

Paul responded to his awful Game 1 with only a slightly better encore, scoring 10 points as the Clippers now head home desperate to steer out of what's starting to get the feel of a sweep.

Game 3 is Saturday in Los Angeles, and Game 4 is Sunday.

When the Clippers land in California early Friday, they'll be home for the first time in nearly a week. They've played seven games in 13 days, and they'll have played nine in 16 by the time the weekend is over.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro knows his team needs rest. Blake Griffin scored 20 points but added another injury to the list, this time what he described as a hip flexor strain. He's already battling a sprained left knee and shaking off a turned ankle in Game 1.

He had just one rebound.

"We're not going into these next two games thinking 'Oh, let's try to keep it close,'" Griffin said. "There's no moral victories or moral losses here. We're not worried about how many points we lost by."

The All-Star matchup of Paul vs. Parker went from a Game 1 bust to a lopsided mismatch, and appeared to prove Paul is hurting more than he's letting on. Del Negro says his star is still struggling with an aching hip and groin, even as Paul insists he's OK.

He again looked anything but. While Parker — the last of the Big Three to finally hit the big 3-0 — celebrated by more than tripling his seven points and dreadful 1-for-9 shooting in Game 1, Paul shot 4 of 9 and had just five assists.

At halftime, the third-place finisher in the league's MVP voting had more personal fouls (3) than points (2), assists (2) or rebounds (2). He finished with eight turnovers, a career playoff high.

"No excuses, I've just got to play better," Paul said. "But I don't ever recall having that many turnovers.

Del Negro said his star will bounce back.

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