Clippers lack mental toughness in Game 3

Clippers lack mental toughness in Game 3
Clippers forwardBlake Griffin pulls down a rebound against Spurs forward Tim Duncan during the second half of Game 3 in their first-round playoff series in San Antonio on April 24. (Darren Abate / Associated Press)

The moment required the Clippers to show some mental fortitude, something the NBA playoffs demand from all its participants.

Instead, when the San Antonio Spurs hit them with a haymaker in the third quarter of Game 3 on Friday night, when Kawhi Leonard manhandled them, the Clippers had their "spirits broken."


No amount of Xs or Os can fix that for Game 4 on Sunday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

No strategy sessions by Clippers Coach Doc Rivers and his staff can mend a weakened state during these Western Conference first-round playoffs.

Their will to compete was tested when crisis struck, and only Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and the rest of the beat-down Clippers can determine what fight they have left.

It'll have to start with all the Clippers having a mental adjustment, wiping away the defeatist attitude they displayed when they walked off the court after a 100-73 loss.

Griffin said he knows his team should have "played with more resolve and played with more drive."

Sure, the Clippers can be better on offense.

They can't afford to have their trio of guards in Paul, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford go a combined six-for-29 from the field for a combined 19 points if they are going to have a chance to win.

Redick is being hounded all over the court by Leonard, the NBA's defensive player of the year.

So it'll take the Clippers' big men -- Jordan, Griffin and Big Baby Davis -- setting harder and better screens to get Redick free from Leonard's clutches.

Then, of course, Redick has to knock down his shots.

Paul probably can help himself by pushing the ball ahead and getting off the ball a little faster, allowing himself to come off a few more screens and being decisive when he has scoring opportunities.

Whatever the case, the Clippers can't live in the past of Game 3's nightmare, which left them down 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

They have to let those discouraging moments go and move on to Game 4.

"You just have to get rid of that memory and forget about it," Griffin said. "[Friday] night's game cannot dictate how we play in Game 4. We just have to forget about it and move on."


Twitter: @BA_Turner