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San Antonio rallied back from a 22 point deficit in the first quarter to win Game 3 by 10 points and take a 3 - 0 lead in their series against the LA Clippers. An initial burst was followed by a quick burn out for the Clippers who even provided the audience with a rare 8 point quarter. In the other game, The Oklahoma City Thunder took a step closer to making it to their second successive Western Conference Finals. OKC were thoroughly dominated by the Lakers till the final quarter surge from them, completely bamboozled the home team and forced them to hand over the game to their opponents.
San Antonio Spurs 96 - 86 Los Angeles Clippers
The LA Clippers started with an adrenaline rush taking a 22 point lead at the end of the first quarter but the experienced San Antonio team remained unfettered as they mounted a slow yet uncompromising challenge against the home team to finally win the game by a 10 point margin. The Clippers fizzled out after their brilliance in the first half which saw them capitalise over the poor shooting of the Spurs. But the third quarter saw the Clippers score just 8 points which is never good enough against an in form Spurs team that are known to give their best in the post season. Â·"We did not plan on being down that much in the first quarter, but we understood that they were going to make a run early, and we needed to sustain. We've been through enough of them to understand that's how it goes. It was great poise by our entire team." Spurs forward Tim Duncan spoke after the game.
Tony Parker had another impressive game for San Antonio as he grabbed 23 points and provided 10 assists to help his team to an almost infallible 3 - 0 lead. Blake Griffin was hot for the Clippers, scoring a game high 28 points, but it wasn't enough to keep the veterans at bay. Chris Paul's performance was yet another dampener for the Clippers as the star guard added just 12 points and was virtually non-existent throughout the game. As Gregg Popovich said it's quite clear that Paul isn't a 100% and one hopes that these heavy duty games don't aggravate any lingering pains.
For San Antonio, Game 4 should result in qualification to the Conference finals. The Spurs have history on their side as no team in NBA playoff history has ever won a series from 3 - 0 down. The Clippers will hope that they can win Game 4 and then take one game at a time and formulate a strategy that doesn't result in a burnout. They will be playing back to back games against the Spurs as the two teams hit the court on Sunday night yet again. One hopes, from a neutrals perspective, that this works in the Clippers' favour.
Oklahoma City Thunder 103 - 100 Los Angeles Lakers
Oklahoma City Thunder looked set to lose Game 4 through most of the match up until the team lit up in the final quarter, outscoring the Lakers by 12 points in the period. A Kevin Durant bucket from beyond the arc with 13 seconds to go gave Thunder the lead and they held on to take a 3 - 1 lead in their Western Conference semi-finals. OKC Coach Scott Brooks spoke about Durant's special performance on the night, "We locked in on the defensive end. Kevin played the passing lane and he was active with his hands. Kevin's a great defender -- that's what makes him a special player. He can play both ends of the floor." Russell Westbrook was top scorer for Oklahoma though, scoring a ridiculous 37 points on the night, one less than Kobe Bryant's game high contribution.
Lakers looked shaky in the final period with poor decisions and over confidence ruining a game that seemed to be in the bag. Pau Gasol's decision to make a pass instead of going to the bucket himself in the dying seconds of the game, which earned him a glare from Kobe Bryant, was one such crucial moment in the game. Kobe Bryant added after the game, "Pau's got to be more assertive. When he catches the ball, he's looking to pass." The point guard himself seemed to have lost his steam in the final quarter as his penetration reduced and he found himself on the line, just the once in that final period. Lakers made all the effort until they threw it all away in the final minutes which can be attributed to both complacency from their end but also the ingrained 'never say never' attitude in Oklahoma.Â·
Game 5 goes back to Oklahoma and with a perfect record at home in this series for OKC, one does think that Durant and his pals will get past the Lakers in the match. It's difficult to understand why the likes of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum haven't displayed the kind of domineering presence that helped the Lakers become one of the fiercest opponents in the NBA in recent memory.
Games on Sunday night
Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers (1-2)
San Antonio Spurs vs. LA Clippers (3-0)
- 23/05/2012 18:33 - NBA Playoffs: Miami blow away Pacers to go 3-2 ahead
- 22/05/2012 12:07 - NBA Playoffs: Lakers bow out of Playoffs, Celtics rally on to take 3-2 lead
- 21/05/2012 12:30 - NBA playoffs: San Antonio power into Conference Finals, James and Wade tie series for Miami