CLIPPERS HEAD HOME DOWN 0-2
Eric Patten (@ericpatten) | 5/17/12

SAN ANTONIO- At times, there wasn't much the Clippers could do to thwart the Spurs in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The home team was just too efficient and too savvy. And despite a couple of spurts to get within striking distance, the Clippers could not overcome their own mistakes and another poor effort from superstar Chris Paul as they fell for the second straight time Thursday to San Antonio, 105-88.

It was the 16th win in a row for the top-seeded Spurs, including a perfect 6-0 record in the postseason. They've lost just twice in their last 29 games.

For the Clippers, they head home for back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday with a 0-2 series deficit.

"They did what they were supposed to do and win two games," said Paul, who finished with nearly as many turnovers (eight) as points (10) and remains slowed by a strained right hip flexor. "Now we go to L.A. and see if we can cut the water out a little bit. They have not played as many games in that gym and hopefully they don't make as many shots."

Difference Maker: Boris Diaw. It wasn't necessarily his creative scoring at the rim or timely 3-pointers (see "hot" section below). It was that Diaw impacted the game on both ends of the floor. He made good decisions, passed well, and made life difficult at times for Blake Griffin in the post.

"He is a very smart basketball player," Tim Duncan said. "I said this about him all along. You play the way he does (and) it is easy to fit in. He is unselfish. He understands what we want to do.

Defensively, he is solid. He can pass the ball better than many of the big men I have ever played with."

Turning Point: Almost five minutes into the first quarter, Chris Paul drove along the left baseline and dropped in gorgeous floater. The shot gave the Clippers a one-point lead and for a moment it looked like Paul and his mates were primed to go nose to nose with the Spurs. But San Antonio strung together 18 of the next 20 points and the Clippers were playing uphill for the rest of the night. Despite getting as close as one point with 4:53 left before halftime, L.A. would never regain the lead.

Turning Point 2: The second unit, led by Kenyon Martin's proficiency from the perimeter and 3-pointers from Nick Young and Mo Williams, pulled the Clippers to within four at halftime, but the hard work was for naught. The Spurs opened the third quarter on a 15-4 run, including back-to-back 3-pointers from opposite corners by Danny Green.

Stat Line of the Night: After the game Paul was asked about San Antonio's offensive success and said, "Everybody's eating," meaning all five players are getting involved. In Game 2, point guard Tony Parker was arguably the hungriest. It was no secret that following a subpar scoring night in Game 1, Parker, a ()-time All-Star, would likely look for his shot more. He led the Spurs in field goal attempts with 19, making eight, was 6-for-6 from the line, grabbed five boards, had five assists, three steals, and a game-high 22 points.

More Stats: Blake Griffin. The Spurs have done well to make Griffin work for almost every basket. He went 7-for-16 from the field for a team-high 20 points, converted six of his eight free throws, and was the only Clipper to make more than four field goals. However, he managed just one assist and one rebound and for the second straight game missed shots around the rim. After the game Griffin was asked what improvements need to be made for the Clippers to get back in the series. He mentioned team defense and cutting down on open shots, but then became self-critical.

"I personally could do a better job rebounding," Griffin said. "I should never have one rebound in 38 minutes of play."

Tim Duncan. Although many of the Spurs role players have played well, Duncan has been the catalyst for the Spurs so far in the series. On Thursday he had 18 points, missed just five shots, and had a rather pedestrian five rebounds and three assists. Still, almost every half-court possession ran through the future Hall of Famer. He even helped convert a fast-break 3-pointer by pushing the ball down the center of the floor and dishing to Green on the right wing.

Randy Foye. The shooting guard scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting in 26 minutes. He also shared time with Paul guarding Parker and bringing the ball up.

Mo Williams. In his pregame media session, Del Negro said he wanted to get Williams more looks. But after going 1-for-3 in Game 1, Williams managed just three shots again, making all of them. He finished with nine points in 18 minutes and also had two blocked shots.

Hot: Diaw. Nearly two months after being released by the Bobcats, the veteran forward is paying tremendous dividends for the Spurs. He had a game-high 12 rebounds in Game 1 and on Thursday went 7-for-7 from the field and 2-for-2 from 3-point range. He also chipped in four rebounds and four assists to go with his 16 points.

Not: Chris Paul. Whether it's his strained right hip flexor, groin injury, fatigue, or simply making mistakes, Paul had his second below average game of the series. He had 10 points, four rebounds, five assists, and two steals, but committed eight of the team's 18 turnovers and generally didn't look like the brilliant Chris Paul that commanded every second of the game over the course of the season. Much like his All-Star teammate, Paul was self-critical in defeat. "I think I've just got to make better passes," he said, sitting in front of his locker. "Two of [the turnovers] came on offensive fouls and the others on bad decisions."

Quotables:

On Chris Paul:

Vinny Del Negro: "He's [Chris Paul] trying to make plays. San Antonio corralled him in certain areas. I don't really worry about that with Chris.He'll get lose here soon and we need him too. He was trying to make plays for us but he got on offensive foul and a couple turnovers that way. He lost the ball a couple times, which is very unusual for him.He'll bounce back."

Chris Paul: "I think I've just got to get a little bit more aggressive and find my legs a little earlier. Get a little more aggressive and make some better decisions."

Tony Parker: "I am sure he is going to come back strong in Game 3. He is going to be at home. He is going to have a lot more energy. I am sure he is going to bounce back. We know that Game 3 is going to be a very tough game and they are going to come back very hard on us."

Caron Butler: "It's tough because our offense is really keyed around him and obviously Blake as it should, and other guys got to continue to step up. We're going to have opportunities. We got to play the pick and roll pretty well; blitz in and try to take it out of his hands and make it difficult for him. Other guys have got to be playmakers, be ready to be aggressive and make things happen."

On what makes the Spurs offense so difficult to defend:

Blake Griffin: "They make you scramble and they pass the ball so well that you can't just key in and clog the paint. I mean, they run their offense to a T' every single time and that's what makes them so difficult."

On what they need to do to stop the Spurs:

Reggie Evans: "Pack it in the middle. Take away the middle and pressure shooters out at the 3-point line. It just takes a lot of effort and a lot of passion to want to do it, basically."

On Tim Duncan:

Randy Foye: "He's healthy. He's moving really well. He's really good in the post and his second move. He'll go one way, show the ball, and go the other way to lay it in. DJ [DeAndre Jordan] has done a great job on him, but he's just making tough shots."

Tim Duncan: "I feel great so far. Obviously, I played better in the first half than I did in the second half but all in all I feel great. It was a good team win, all around. I look forward to the next one. Actually I am not looking forward to the back-to-back but it is what it is."

Notes: After shooting 52.1% from the line in the regular season, Griffin is up to 60.6% in the playoffs... The Spurs have only lost four times since March 9, when the Clippers won 120-108 at AT&T Center... Nick Young made two more 3-pointers for the Clippers on Thursday. He's now 15-for-25 in the postseason from distance (60%)... Speaking of threes, San Antonio is shooting 44.8% from long range in five games against the Clippers this season... The Clippers were 9-for-13 from 3-point range... The Spurs out-scored L.A. 50-18 in points in the paint.

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