Tim Duncan is a robot. If it wasn’t already apparent, the soon-to-be 39-year-old proved it once and for all Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Old Man Duncan defied age once again, to the tune of 28 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in pacing his Spurs to a 111-107 overtime win over the Clippers that tied up their first-round series at 1-1. Defended mostly by the supremely athletic DeAndre Jordan, Timmy had to work for his points—most of them came on turnaround jumpers or floaters well-contested by Jordan in the 5-15 feet range:
Father Time will ultimately beat Tim Duncan. But he'll need deep tissue massage, employer-approved leave & several cognacs to fully recover.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) April 23, 2015
There were several times where you just had to shake your head and say, “unguardable.”
But it wasn’t just the Big Fundamental who made the contest intriguing. There was no shortage of interesting storylines in this game that was close and intense throughout the entire 53 minutes.
The Clippers’ Blake Griffin was a thorn in San Antonio’s side again (29 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists for his first career playoff triple-double), bullying any and every defender the Spurs threw at him. He also punctured the San Antonio defense with some nice feeds from the high post to cutters and shooters.
However, Griffin had some costly turnovers in the waning moments of the game.
The biggest blunder came with 13 seconds to go in regulation and the Clippers up two, when he had a monster mismatch against 6’5″ shooting guard Marco Belinelli. But while trying to exploit his advantage, he fumbled the ball. The Spurs used the turnover to tie the game up and send it to overtime:
Another interesting story was Tony Parker‘s utter failure to make any sort of impact on the game and his fourth-quarter exit of the game due to Achilles tightness. Parker finished with the following stat line: one point, two rebounds and five assists in 30 minutes on 0-of-6 shooting from the field.
Replacing him as the Spurs’ point guard down the stretch was the frisky Patty Mills, who was absolutely huge in securing San Antonio’s win. Mills scored all 18 of his points after halftime, including two big game-tying free throws and several others to secure the Spurs’ lead in overtime.
It’ll be interesting to see how Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich distributes minutes to the two on Friday, assuming Parker returns.
Joining Duncan and Mills as candidates for the game ball is Kawhi Leonard, who didn’t have one amazing stretch of play but was consistently great throughout. His 23 points and nine rebounds to go with great defense on Chris Paul and J.J. Redick kept the Spurs in the game at many points.
Did you know The Claw could do this?:
I don’t know if that’s a killer ankle-breaker by Kawhi or a Shaqtin’-a-Fool moment for Redick. Probably both, actually.
And the Hack-a-Jordan! How could I forget that? Popovich had his players intentionally foul the sour-shooting big man for several plays in the third and fourth quarters. Jordan’s 6-of-17 line from the charity stripe and the Spurs’ win may make it seem like the move worked, but San Antonio actually lost much of its own offensive rhythm when they implemented the strategy.
So there’s something else Coach Pop will have to take a hard look at for Game 3.
But it all came back to Duncan, who was there for his team as its solid rock throughout the close game. When the Clippers got a few points ahead, he was there to make a huge rebound.
Folks, be sure to take in the Big Fundamental as much as you can now, because he won’t be around much longer.
Oh right, I forgot he was a robot. Never mind, carry on.