Spurs rip Clippers for 16th win in a row

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 18 2012 02:14 PM | Updated as of May 18 2012 10:14 PM

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Tony Parker celebrated his 30th birthday by scoring 22 points on Thursday to lead San Antonio over the Los Angeles Clippers 105-88, stretching the Spurs' win streak to 16 games.

San Antonio took a 2-0 lead over the Clippers in the best-of-seven Western Conference second-round series, which continues with games three and four on Saturday and Sunday in Los Angeles.

The Spurs won their final 10 regular-season games and have opened the playoffs with six triumphs in a row.

French guard Parker, double-covered most of the night, also contributed five rebounds and five assists for the Spurs while Tim Duncan added 18 points and Boris Diaw, another Frenchman, contributed 16 points for San Antonio.

Parker, joking he could no longer deny he was an "old man", said he passed to Duncan and Diaw when shut down by the Clippers, but had more chances in the second half because of his teammates' scoring success.

"I had to be patient and get my teammates involved," Parker said. "In the second half I had more opportunities to do stuff. They were covering Timmy and more of our shooters so I was able to try attacking and go to the hoop a little more."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praised Parker's work ethic and attacking style both offensively and defensively in shutting down the Clippers' Chris Paul.

"Tony did the lion's share of work," Popovich said. "He played a great game defensively. He did a hell of a job.

"Tony played very, very aggressively and focused knowing full well he was going to be hit and doubled. He played through it and did a hell of a job."

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro is still searching for ways to stop playmaker Parker, who shot 8-of-19 from the field.

"Tony has had a fantastic year," Del Negro said. "He's difficult to contend with in the open court and he has a lot of weapons around him. We have to do a better job of corralling him."

After winning 50 games to share the NBA's best regular-season record with Chicago, the Spurs have a home-court edge throughout the playoffs after the Bulls lost star Derrick Rose to an injury and were ousted by Philadelphia in the first round.

One reason for the Spurs' success has been the ability of Duncan and Parker to stay healthy during the grind of playing 66 games over four months as a consequence of the NBA money dispute that resulted in a compressed schedule.

"I feel unbelievable, better than I have for the last four or five years," Duncan said.

Duncan, 36, has been a member of all four Spurs' NBA championship squads.

"He is getting older but he is still the backbone of the program," Popovich said. "He's the one we build around. He continues to rebound and play defense. We have gone to him a lot in these playoffs. He's still one hell of a player."

Duncan was also the perfect option when Parker found himself double covered.

"It was vintage Tim," Parker said. "If they want to take me out, Timmy is going to have a lot of wide-open shots."

San Antonio seized command in the second half after the Clippers rallied late in the second quarter to pull within 46-42 at half-time.

"We got into a lull and got satisfied with the lead we had and they made a run," Duncan said. "We refocused our energy and came out in the second half focused on what we had to do to win the game."

Del Negro lamented 18 turnovers by the Clippers, seven more than the Spurs surrendered.

"We turned the ball over too much," Del Negro said. "We can't give them those kinds of opportunities. They moved the ball well. A lot of guys shot well for them. We couldn't keep up with that scoring pace."

Blake Griffin scored 20 points to lead Los Angeles but grabbed only one rebound while Paul, nursing an injured right hip, managed only 10 points and committed eight turnovers.

"Blake knows he has to do a better job rebounding for us," Del Negro said. "We have got to regroup and get back home and get our energy back up."

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