The Los Angeles Clippers started the game out strong, and finished the first quarter leading 33-11, but the San Antonio Spurs never gave up and kept playing hard to complete a comeback 96-86 victory on Saturday to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Tim Duncan scored 19 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and had four assists and three blocks, Tony Parker had a team-high 23 points and 10 assists, while Kawhi Leonard added 14 points and nine rebounds for San Antonio.
Blake Griffin finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds, and Mo Williams added 19 points for the Clippers, who face some daunting NBA history heading into Game 4 on Sunday at Staples Center.
No team has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.
"If we don't play with that sense of urgency, it's not going to be pretty," Griffin said.
Manu Ginobili scored 13 points and Gary Neal chipped in seven points off the bench to help the Spurs win their 17th in a row and improve to 7-0 in the playoffs.
"We all struggled in the first quarter. We didn't feel right out there," said Duncan, who like his teammates, looked to Parker to pick the team up.
"We follow his lead. He stuck with it, made some big shots down the stretch and continued to attack," Duncan said. "He was playing defense really hard and got up into Chris."
Chris Paul had 12 points and 11 assists after two previous sub-par efforts in the series.
"Tony really ran the show well," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I'd say, 'Let's do this' and he said, 'No, let's do this,' and we'd do it."
After a quiet first half in which he scored eight points, Duncan helped the Spurs control the third quarter when they outscored Los Angeles 26-8.
The Spurs took their first lead during the 24-0 run on a fadeaway jumper by Duncan, who scored nine points in the outburst that put them ahead for good. Danny Green added seven and Leonard five.
"We kept telling Kawhi and Danny to stay calm," Parker said.
The Clippers' defense completely faltered and they piled up miss after miss on the offensive end.
"When they spread the floor and Tim Duncan runs a high pick-and-roll, it's trouble for a lot of teams," Griffin said. "That's basically what killed us in the third. This is what they do best."
The Clippers scored the final four points of the third, which ended with a turnover by Williams, to trail 69-61 heading into the fourth.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)