San Antonio Puts Down Clips 96-86 to Go Up 3-0: When Chris Paul isn't Chris Paul

May 19, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich during the first half of game three of the Western Conference semi finals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

Boxscore is here.

If you're like me you've become completely sick of all the prognosticators telling us that the Clippers don't belong in the same building as the San Antonio Spurs, that they were a one man team, just Chris Paul and a bunch of spare parts, that Blake Griffn and his teammates were nothing more than athletes, dunkers, who would inevitably wither in the hot glare of the playoff spotlight... that they are too young, too inexperienced, and have too much miserable history to prevail against the greatness of the Spurs, the greatness of the Lakers, the Thunder, etc.

Somehow, the Clips brutal first round victory against the Memphis Grizzlies didn't mean anything. They should simply bow down to the wonderfulness of the Spurs, become a meaningless bump in the road before the inevitable clash between San Antonio and some better Western conference team..

With this second round series starting only a day after the emotional seventh game victory in Memphis and with nagging injuries to the Clippers two best players, the Clippers went into San Antonio and lost the first two games in somewhat predictable fashion. Everyone, it seemed, was ready to hand the series to San Antonio.

But wait a second, not so fast... so the Spurs won two games at home? So what? That's what they were supposed to do... win home games especially against a tired, wounded team. Just wait until the Clippers get back to LA, back to the friendly confines of Staples Center.

And this afternoon, the Clips came out on fire and showed the Spurs who they really are... they went on a stunning 24-4 run in early minutes and led the Spurs by 22 at the end of the first quarter. Ahh... this was gonna be easy, this was gonna shut up the Jon Barry and Michael Wilbons of the world and the Clips were gonna walk over the mighty Spurs on their home court. Blake Griffin was a frantic vision, hitting shots from all over the court, scoring eighteen and pulling down seven rebounds in the first frame.

But... then the Spurs woke up. They swatted the Clippers like sluggish flies. They cut it to ten by the half, tied it with five left in the third, and were ahead by eight at the beginning of the fourth. The Clips tried to rally, but couldn't get anything going. Chris Paul who has been the Clips late-minutes hero all season, showed little tonight. We can blame it on his hip flexor, sure, but... the Clips have thirteen more guys on their playoff roster, right? Blame those guys too.

There's no other way to look at it, San Antonio laid out the Clippers in a performance that showed both the Spurs superiority and the Clippers over-reliance on their star. Now they're down 3-0 and they're reeling like drunks. But let's not forget they lost to a great, experienced team, with a great coach.

Oh yeah, there's another game tomorrow night at 7:30. Clips will be playing for respect. There is hope, I suppose, there is always hope.

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