Clippers Scorch The Spurs In Game 1 Of Playoffs

by Adam Smith
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Chris Paul scored 32 points, Blake Griffin added 26 points and 12 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers surged in the second half for a 107-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night in their first-round playoff series opener. Jamal Crawford added 17 points for the Clippers, who met the defending NBA champions’ challenge in a difficult postseason-opening matchup for two powers. Griffin threw down his usual array of roof-raising dunks, while Paul quarterbacked Los Angeles to an 18-point lead in the third quarter.

Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points for the Spurs, who had won the opening game in their previous 11 playoff series. Tim Duncan had 11 points and 11 rebounds, but the Spurs couldn’t rally from their hefty second-half deficit. Game 2 is Wednesday night. Tony Parker rolled his ankle early on and managed just 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting for the Spurs, who slipped to the sixth seed in the Western Conference in their season finale. That loss at New Orleans forced them to open their chase of their sixth NBA title against the hungry Clippers, who have never reached a conference final.

Both teams headed into the postseason with enormous momentum: Los Angeles won 14 of its final 15 games to finish with 56 victories and the NBA’s third-best record, while San Antonio won 14 of 16 and 11 straight before the season finale. San Antonio began intentionally fouling DeAndre Jordan at midcourt with 1:34 left in the first half, resuming the much-loathed strategy of forcing a 39-percent free-throw shooter to the line. In February, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent Jordan to the line 28 times in a loss at Staples Center.

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