It often feels like Tim Duncan has been in the NBA forever. But even with his 39th birthday mere days away, the “Big Fundamental” arguably plays like a man in his late 20s or early 30s. And as usual, he tends to save his biggest games for the playoffs, much to the chagrin of opponents.
Despite being saddled with five fouls with eight minutes remaining in regulation, Duncan stepped up when it mattered the most, scoring 28 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 111-107 win Wednesday night over the host Los Angeles Clippers. This allowed the Spurs to tie the series 1-1 by stealing Game 2 from the home team.
“(Duncan) was spectacular,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “He continues to amaze me with the things that he is able to do. He knows he had to stay on the court and he figured out a way to do it. He continued to be aggressive, which is pretty amazing.” With foul trouble an issue, Duncan shot just 1-for-5 in the fourth quarter and was clearly outplayed by Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, but he made up for it in extra time, scoring four straight points to come through in crunchtime.
The Spurs had actually held a few comfortable leads in the game, only to blow these 10-point leads twice in the second half. And it took two free throws from reserve guard Patty Mills with eight seconds to go in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. “They are battle-tested,” remarked Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. “They lose (Tony) Parker (to an Achilles injury), Mills steps in. Manu (Ginobili) is out, (Danny) Green steps in. That is what they do. You have to tip your hat to them.”
Kawhi Leonard and Mills added 23 and 18 points respectively for the Spurs, while Blake Griffin’s first career playoff triple-double (29 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) led the way for the Clippers.