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Tuesday May 22, 2012

San Antonio beat Los Angeles to extend win streak to 18

LOS ANGELES: San Antonio continue to run roughshod across the NBA, completing their second-straight four-game series sweep in the post-season by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 102-99 in game four on Sunday.

Tim Duncan had a team-high 21 points and nine rebounds and Tony Parker finished with 17 points and five assists for the Spurs who have won 18 consecutive games dating back to the regular season.

All the way: San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan (left) and Boris Diaw (right) defending as Los Angeles Clippers DeAndre Jordan (centre) drives the ball to the basket during their first half of game four of the Western Conference semi-finals in Los Angeles, California, on Sunday. — EPA

The top-seeded Spurs will now face either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference final, beginning in San Antonio.

“We got it done through perseverance,” Duncan said. “We stuck with it. We kept moving the ball and believing in what we were doing.

“It is great to have a close game like this. It is a good experience for our young guys.”

San Antonio’s last defeat was to the Lakers on April 11 and their 8-0 record in the playoffs includes a sweep of the Utah Jazz in the opening round.

Guard Parker said the Spurs are only halfway to their goal.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” said Parker. “We haven’t accomplished anything. We will see who we play in the next round.”

Guard Chris Paul led the Clippers with 23 points and helped keep the game close down the stretch.

But Paul also had a key turnover in the final minute and then had a chance to tie it with a jumper with four seconds remaining but his shot from in close hit the rim and bounced out of harm’s way.

“We just didn’t execute. That’s my fault,” Paul said. “The first one I turned it over and the second one I missed the shot.

“It is disappointing for me to not being able to come through for my team. We know we lost to a good team. I am happy we never gave up.”

Blake Griffin had 21 points and DeAndre Jordan finished with 10 points and eight rebounds for the Clippers who were trying to achieve the improbable. No NBA team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

As if he didn’t already have enough to worry about with a sore left hip and a sprained right knee, Griffin was sent to the dressing room for repairs just before the half after he cut open his lip in a collision with Spurs’ Manu Ginobili. He received four stitches.

San Antonio took two of three from the Clippers during the regular season in 2011-12.

Game four capped a marathon sports weekend for Los Angeles and the downtown Staples Centre arena.

The arena, also home to the Los Angeles Lakers and the National Hockey League’s Kings, hosted six playoff games in four days.

The country’s largest cycling race, the Tour of California, also wrapped up Sunday outside Staples Centre adding to the festivities.

In Indianapolis LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 70 points as the Miami Heat recovered from back-to-back defeats to grind down the Indiana Pacers 101-93 on Sunday and level the NBA’s Eastern conference semi-final at 2-2.

The Heat, who struggled in their previous games after Chris Bosh was ruled out with an abdominal injury, trailed by eight points at half-time but snatched the momentum when James and Wade took control in a dominant third quarter.

“This is what the playoffs are all about. It’s just survival,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

James, named last week as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player, scored 40 points, with 18 rebounds and nine assists.

Wade, who was subdued in Game Three, responded with 30 points, nine rebounds and six assists as the Heat sparkled in a stunning return to form.       

Forward Danny Granger led Indiana with 20 points but the Pacers were powerless to curtail James and Wade in a rampant third quarter.

“You get the ball out of one of those guys’ hands and it just gets to the other guy’s,” lamented Pacers coach Frank Vogel.

The Pacers led 54-46 at half-time but James and Wade put the visitors in front when they combined to score the first 28 points for the Heat, who went on a 25-5 run. — Agencies

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