The Clippers were in desperation mode entering Sunday’s Game 4 against the Spurs, and after the previous game where they never led and trailed by as many as 37 points, you knew things would be different for them from the opening tip.
L.A. brought the energy from the very start, got superstar performances from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, and was able to pull away for the 114-105 win in San Antonio to even the best-of-seven series.
Paul was magnificent, and finished with 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting, to go along with seven assists. He really took over in the fourth, scoring 10 of his points in the final period — a feat even more impressive when considering the fact that he picked up his fifth personal foul with 8:25 to play, yet was able to remain aggressive the rest of the way.
Griffin, meanwhile, finished with 20 points, but his work on the glass in hauling down 19 rebounds was even more critical to his team’s success.
The Clippers got a huge boost off the bench from Austin Rivers, who finished with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in 17 minutes of action. A reserve unit which usually only features Jamal Crawford as a capable scorer benefited greatly from Rivers’ shifts, as he was aggressive and attacking on the offensive end of the floor where he was seemingly (and uncharacteristically) unable to be stopped.
On the Spurs’ side, San Antonio was competitive for most of it, as expected. Kawhi Leonard had another solid overall performance in finishing with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but he wasn’t nearly as impactful as he’d been in the last two contests. Danny Green missed all six of his attempts from three-point distance, and Patty Mills provided an early spark, but then seemed to get too many minutes later on when Tony Parker might have been more under control, and better able to guide the San Antonio ship.
It was as close to a must-win as possible for the Clippers, who would have faced the daunting task of trying to beat the Spurs three straight times just to keep their season alive had they fallen in this one. But Paul and Griffin made sure that the series would be headed back to Los Angeles all tied up at two games apiece.