I'm out of breath, nerves frayed, ready for bed, and I only watched this game. Imagine how these teams must feel.
No lone sentence can adequately provide the narrative. Pick a lede, any lede:
- Tim Duncan schooled the Clippers in the post with his footwork and deft touch, scoring 28 points on 14-23 shooting and allowing me to write a sentence that wouldn't look out of place in 2001 if you replaced "Clippers" with "Lakers". Even DeAndre Jordan, with 20, 15, and continued excellence on defense, was powerless to stop the San Antonio legend for most of the night. Duncan exceeded 20 and 10 for the 100th playoff game of his decorated career. He also played 44 minutes, an unfathomable number for a man who is 7-feet tall and 38 years old.
- Blake Griffin was mad-lib good (fill in the adjective: unstoppable, transformational, sensational) right up until he wasn't, obscuring a 29-12-11 triple-double with a number of turnovers in critical late moments. Blake will need to show some mental toughness to recover from this one. In the first half, he unsheathed every weapon he's developed over his career and put each to devastating use against a Spurs team with few options to even slow him. But it only took a handful of gaffes, one of which came with 11 seconds remaining and the Clippers up 2, to undo a night of spectacular work. He looked tired, and he had every right to be after headlining the Clippers offense for the majority of the game, but that will probably come as little consolation to a team that added another heartbreaking playoff loss to its growing collection.
- Patty Mills, pride of St. Mary's, stepped in for Tony Parker, who left the game with a sore achilles in the fourth quarter, and converted in clutch moments to seal the deal. The Australian point guard scored 12 of his 18 points after the third quarter, calmly sinking two free throws to tie the game late in the fourth, and four more in overtime to ice the victory and the series tie.
- Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich was nearly burned when his Hack-A-DJ led to the expulsion of Manu Ginobili after six fouls and pushed Duncan to the brink with five of his own. At one point, DeAndre made four straight free throws as the Clippers clawed back into contention late in the fourth quarter.
- The referees angered many with calls that ranged from somewhat questionable to completely puzzling, further drawing out a game that lasted three hours and moved at an excruciating pace thanks to the Spurs' intentional fouling strategy.
- The Clippers regained control of the boards, grabbing 16 offensive rebounds, five each by DeAndre, Blake, and Matt Barnes. These extra chances almost singlehandedly kept them in this game as they fought back to even in the fourth quarter.