Spurs Survive Overtime Thriller for Game 2 Win
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On Wednesday night the San Antonio Spurs faced the Los Angeles Clippers in Southern California for the second time in the seven game series. Game one saw the Clippers youth and athleticism run circles around the aging Spurs veterans. Game two was a much more highly contested slugfest between two of the best teams in the league. The contest was about as back and forth as a Forrest Gump table tennis match. Ultimately, some lucky bounces, unfortunate turnovers and clutch shooting allowed the Spurs to be survivors, tying the series at 1-1.
The first half of the game, while still close, seemed to be dominated by the defending champions. Their passes were crisp, their spacing was beautiful, and Tim Duncan could not be stopped nor contained. On the other side of the ball, the Clip ship looked erratic with solid fundamental screen and roll and pick and pop play sets that were followed by ill-advised shots, sloppy passing and poor spacing. To put it simply, the Clippers looked out of sync. One could say the Spurs defense was stifling, and I wouldn’t fault them, but, I feel that were playing unfocused. They were playing hard, but still unfocused. The Clippers did do a couple things really well. They got Blake Griffin involved as a play-maker early, and completely shut down Tony Parker, who would later exit the game early with an injury. However, the one thing they couldn’t do was slow the ageless wonder, who seemingly banked in everything.As Duncan got off to a blistering start, hitting 10 of his first eleven shots.
The second half saw the Spurs get back to their old ways, spacing beautifully, playing wonderful help defense and taking advantages of mismatches off of screens. The Clippers returned to action looking lost trying to find a balance on offense. The Spurs were persistent as they continued to slowly increase their lead into the fourth quarter, where with six minutes and 32 seconds left, Kawhi Leonard took J.J. Redick to the post and put on a little half spin to his left and then came back to his right hitting a fadeaway that touched nothing but twine and also made Redick look like the hardwood was covered in banana peels. It was at that point when the Spurs went up by double digits, 88-78 and the Clippers appeared to be buried. The Spurs, inexplicably began to foul DeAndre Jordan intentionally, and you know what? He wasn’t as atrocious as Coach Pop had hoped he would be. Additionally, CP3 hit a ridiculous three and Jamal Crawford contributed another. The Spurs stuck to their first half formula on offense pounding the ball down low to Mr. Fundamental, but after missing 3 consecutive bunnies, Tim D, the man who does no wrong, let the Clippers sneak back into the game after a 12-2 run. The Spurs had their backs against the wall when the second most important play of the game happened: the Spurs once again went on the low block to Duncan who was overplayed on the right shoulder by Jordan, went to his patented right handed baby hook over the left shoulder and was blocked. Chris Paul was eventually fouled on the Clippers possession and sunk 2 free throws to give them the lead. On the next possession Marco Belinelli threw the ball away and it was the Clippers who had possession with under 30 seconds and a lead of two. Now to the most critical moment of the game: Griffin gets a live dribble near the top of the key and, subsequently decides to do his Austin Rivers impression with less than 20 seconds left, leading to a miss dribble that falls into the Spurs lap. Consequently, the Spurs relay a quick outlet to Patty Mills who gets fouled taking the ball to the rack. He hits both free attempts and sends the game into overtime in front of a stunned L.A. crowd.
Overtime was the Patty Mills show. The Spurs looked like the more poised team despite entering the extra period with an overtime record of a dismal 1-6. San Antonio quickly piled on 17 points with key contributions from Mills, Diaw, Leonard, and Duncan. The Spur were able to secure the 111-107 victory, despite a crazy 3 from Paul and an in-and-out 3 in transition from Redick that would have tied the game with under a minute left.
Player of the Game- Tim Duncan played 44 minutes and dumped in 28 points, contributed 11 rebounds and added 4 assists in the win.
Dud of the Game- Matt Barnes went one for 10 from the field in 35 minutes for a total of four points, and even worse, shot only 25 percent from the free throw line. He also missed critical attempts from the stripe late in the game.
Stat of the Night- The Spurs were 1-6 in overtime games this season heading into game two. Not only did they improve to 2-6 in those games. Additionally, with the Spurs winning this game, this series became the only one this postseason to be tied after 2 games.
Analysis- This game was nuts. It seemed that the Spurs were on their way to coasting to a victory in the third quarter and beginning of the fourth, and then something happened… DeAndre Jordan started hitting his free throws after the Spurs went to a strategy of intentionally fouling him off the ball. This game was like a Rocky movie with dramatic punch after dramatic punch, with poor commentating sprinkled in between humungous blows. Thanks, Reggie Miller. Tim Duncan looked as timeless as ever playing 44 minutes, Blake Griffin tallied a triple-double and Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard both looked amazing. It certainly did all it could to advance the Hack-A-Player strategy that Coach Greg Popovich implemented. If this is any indicator of how the rest of the series will play out we’ll be in for a treat.
Game three is Friday at 9:30 EST on ESPN in San Antonio.