It was a win or go home Game 6 for the Los Angeles Clippers as they were looking to keep their season alive on the road in San Antonio against the defending champion Spurs.
With everything on the line, the Clippers battled extremely hard and received another monstrous performance from Blake Griffin to escape with a six-point victory to force a Game 7.
The Clippers looked good early on, as they were getting excellent production from J.J. Redick, something they had been looking for all series long. Redick scored 12 of his 19 points in the first quarter, but the period ended in a tie.
On the other end, it was Marco Belinelli who caught fire for the Spurs. He drilled four consecutive threes in the second quarter to help the Spurs build a nine-point lead, but the Clippers did not tremble and came all the way back to knot the game at 51 heading into intermission.
Chris Paul had just four first half points and all came at the line, as he was 0 for 7 from the field. DeAndre Jordan recorded a double-double by halftime with 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Clippers at the break.
Desperation showed for the Clippers as they came out of the locker rooms with more intensity and focus. Chris Paul finally made his first field goal of the game with 4:43 remaining in the third and found his stride from there on. After his first make, Paul knocked down three more mid-range jumpers to give his team a four-point lead heading to the final quarter.
Early in the fourth, Glen Davis rolled his ankle and was wheel chaired off to the locker room to get examined. He seemed to be in a lot of pain and is likely to miss Game 7, which is a pretty big blow for the Clippers.
Getting back to the action, Paul and Blake Griffin rallied their troops to a seven-point lead. The Spurs were running out of time but had one last run left in them. With 1:25 to go and down six, Gregg Popovich inserted Belinelli into the game, and he immediately knocked down a three to slice the Clippers lead in half.
However, Paul answered back with a floater in the lane to make it a two-possession game with 21 seconds left. Belinelli responded with another three-point hit to cut the deficit to two. The Spurs were forced to foul Jamal Crawford, who sank both free throws.
After calling a timeout, Popovich drew up another play for Belinelli, but as his three was coming off the rim, Boris Diaw touched it and was called for an offensive interference. Ball went back to the Clippers with one second on the clock and a four-point lead. Griffin hit two free throws to put the stamp on the game.
Griffin finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and four blocks on 11 of 21 shooting. Chris Paul came alive in the second half, ending with 19 points, 15 assists, four rebounds, and four steals. Outside of Crawford’s 10 points, the Clippers bench was a non-factor, but their defense was top notch. They held the Spurs starters to 37.2 percent shooting.
Tim Duncan notched a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds but was kept quiet. Kawhi Leonard also had 12 points but shot 3 of 15 from the floor. Tony Parker added just eight points and seven assists on 4 of 12 shooting.
Marco Belinelli led the way with 23 points, including seven three-pointers. He was the reason the Spurs stayed in this game, but the Clippers could live with that. Boris Diaw chipped in 17 points, five assists, and four rebounds off the pine.
The Clippers did not trail in the second half and owned the pace. They had 18 fast break points compared to only two by the Spurs.
This series has come down to which team wants it more and which team is the aggressor. This game, the Clippers were far more aggressive and physical. They were desperate and got the job done on both ends of the floor.
“We were just soft....We should be embarrassed by how we came out for a closeout game,” Gregg Popovich said after the loss.
This is has definitely turned out to be a wonderful series with each team winning twice on the road.
The win-or-go-home Game 7 will be on Saturday, May 2nd, at 8 pm EST.