San Antonio Spurs sweep Los Angeles Clippers, move on to Western Conference Finals
Six Spurs finished in double figures in the win, led by 21 points from forward Tim Duncan. Chris Paul led the Clippers with 23 points in defeat.
After going up by 10 in the first quarter on a 13-0 run, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich used the “hack-a-Shaq” strategy on Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan, a career 44% free throw shooter. Jordan hit 2-4 in the stretch.
The Spurs struck again in the second quarter, opening up a double-digit lead behind a strong push from reserves Danny Green, Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal. While it looked like the Spurs could be heading towards another blowout, the Clippers rallied back, trailing by only 4 at halftime. Blake Griffin left right before halftime after a collision with Manu Ginobili. Griffin’s tooth went through his lip, leaving a gash that required four stitches to seal.
The Clippers bounced back in the third with a 28-point quarter, taking a one-point lead heading into the fourth.
Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe carried the offensive load in the final quarter, giving the team a huge spark with a three and driving layup to open up a five point lead with five minutes remaining. After an alley-oop by Jordan (on a nice lob from Bledsoe) the NBA Coach of the Year brought back the hack-a-Shaq strategy again, intentionally sending Reggie Evans to the line where he missed both free throws. The two teams continued to trade blows until the waning seconds, with the Spurs forcing a turnover and off-balanced shot on consecutive possessions to seal the victory.
The Spurs completed their second consecutive sweep, and move on to play the winner of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder series in the Western Conference Finals. Oklahoma City leads Los Angeles 3-1, with Game 5 on Monday in OKC.