Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs took down the Los Angeles Clippers in a 111-107 overtime win Wednesday that provided what might have been the perfect example of how both star and system have combined to make the defending champs so dominant for so long. As the first three quarters unfolded, it was difficult to avoid thinking that once San Antonio’s never-ending parade of quality, open three-point looks started to fall, an exceptionally tight affair would suddenly tilt the Spurs’ way.
Before the game even started, head coach Gregg Popovich knew better results were possible if his team’s good shots could fall a bit more often, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: “We could change pick-and-roll defenses, we could do something else on Blake [Griffin], we could go something different here or do that. But I’m not sure that’s going to make us shoot better. We’d like to shoot better tonight.”
Until that moment ultimately arrived and those shots finally began to fall (it took nearly three full quarters), Duncan, practically by himself, propped up the team for which he’s been a figurative pillar since the Clinton administration. Put simply, Timmy looked as great as ever for most of regulation. He punished DeAndre Jordan in the post with his typical array of hooks, leaners and push shots, scoring a team-high 28 points on 14-of-23 shooting. He set dozens of screens, grabbed 11 boards and handed out four assists for good measure.
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