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Clippers on brink of elimination after heartbreaking Game 5 loss to Spurs

The Los Angeles Clippers were riding high heading into Game 5 against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night. The Clippers had just dispatched the Spurs in San Antonio in Game 4 on Sunday, and they had a chance to take control of the series and put all the pressure on the reigning champs in Games 6 and 7.

Instead, for the second time this series, Los Angeles lost at home in heartbreaking fashion, 111-107.

At first, it looked like the Clippers were going to run away from the Spurs in the early going. Los Angeles ran out to a 14-point advantage, but the Clippers’ wretched bench was predictably destroyed by San Antonio’s superior reserves. Once the game got close again, it stayed close the rest of the game, with both teams trading blows like heavyweight fighters.

Los Angeles led by one point at halftime and the game was tied heading into the fourth quarter. The game went back and forth before the Spurs grabbed control of the contest by going up by seven points with 3:34 left after a Boris Diaw three-pointer. Blake Griffin, who had been great the first three quarters, couldn’t make a layup in the fourth quarter and had several bad turnovers. It looked to be totally falling apart.

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

But in the nature of this series, the Clippers got themselves back in it and trimmed the deficit to two after a nifty alley-oop from Griffin to DeAndre Jordan with 1:31 left. The rest of the game was just hectic. Danny Green missed a jumper on one end, giving Los Angeles the chance to tie or take the lead. Griffin was then stuffed by the ageless Tim Duncan and subsequently lost the ball when he regained possession.

Tony Parker split a pair of free throws on the other end, but Griffin missed two free throws and Jamal Crawford missed a potential game-tying three. Matt Barnes grabbed the offensive rebound and buried two free throws, and then Green missed a wide open three-pointer that could have been the dagger. With the Clippers down one, Griffin drove to the basket and put up a floater, but Jordan committed offensive interference on Griffin’s shot, a shot that looked like it was going to go in if it wasn’t touched.

Green split a pair of free throws, but Los Angeles failed to secure the rebound and San Antonio clinched the game by getting that offensive rebound and making two free throws. Just pure insanity.

Duncan led six Spurs in double figures with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Griffin had 30 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and four steals, but his miscues in the fourth quarter helped lead to the loss. The Spurs’ bench outscored the Clippers’ bench, 48-17, as Austin Rivers’s magic from Game 4 disappeared and Crawford really struggled.

Considering how this game played out, it’s tough to see Los Angeles going to San Antonio and winning Game 6. Anything can happen, of course, but I’m not expecting it. The Spurs are a 5½-point favorite in Game 6, which will take place on Thursday.

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