Clippers get clobbered by Spurs, 100-73

Clippers suffer worst playoff loss and trail in series, 2-1

The whiteboard inside the Clippers' locker room late Friday night touted a two-hour dinner in the Navarro room inside the team hotel.

There figured to be plenty of poking at fancy food after the wholly unappetizing display the Clippers staged in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series at the AT&T Center.

The Clippers were awful on defense and even more atrocious on offense throughout a 100-73 loss to the San Antonio Spurs that easily set their season low for points.

The league's most efficient offense during the regular season scored 16 points in the first quarter and things somehow got worse. The Clippers managed 11 points in the third quarter, single-handedly topped by Kawhi Leonard's 13 points for the Spurs.

"We missed a few shots early, a few calls didn't go our way and I saw a collective head drop," Clippers forward Matt Barnes said after his team lost a second consecutive game in a series it now trails, two games to one. "We can't have that."

The fans serenaded Leonard with "MVP!" chants as he stepped to the free-throw line early in the fourth quarter to complete a night in which he set a career playoff high with 32 points.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers then yanked his starters with 7 minutes 39 seconds left in the game, his focus shifting entirely to a must-win Game 4 here Sunday.

"Luckily," Clippers point guard Chris Paul said, "Game 4 doesn't start the way the game ended tonight."

Paul had trouble navigating the defense of Danny Green, finishing with seven points and six turnovers to go with his four assists. It was the first time all season Paul tallied more turnovers than assists.

Leonard, the NBA's defensive player of the year, continued to neutralize Clippers guard J.J. Redick, who made two of seven shots and has made only 10 of 32 shots in the series.

This loss went far beyond the Clippers shooting 34.1% to the Spurs' 52.6%. The Clippers compounded their shooting difficulties with head-shaking plays such as center DeAndre Jordan committing offensive goaltending and Glen Davis having a shot blocked by the significantly shorter Manu Ginobili.

"Tonight we were a step behind everything on both ends of the floor," said Jordan, who had 10 points to go with eight rebounds.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 14 points but needed 15 shots to get there, making only six. Austin Rivers added 11 points off the bench.

Paul and Griffin had combined for more turnovers (five) than points (four) before Paul made a three-pointer midway through the second quarter. Griffin appeared exhausted by then, his jersey soaked in sweat as he doubled over panting during a break in the game.

"We're a high-scoring team and a ball-movement team and I thought for the most part, one through 12, the ball stuck tonight for us," Doc Rivers said. "And some of that was we got down early and I thought our guys were all trying to win the game for us, which never works."

It seemed like a minor miracle the Clippers trailed only 46-38 at halftime considering their bench players had combined to make one of 13 shots.

Leonard showed he could also play some on the other end of the court by making his first four shots. He scored 29 of the Spurs' first 61 points and wowed the crowd late in the second quarter when he snatched a Green lob that appeared destined for the third row of seats and slammed it into the basket with one hand.

"He's not a one-trick pony kind of guy," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's something else."

About the only Clipper who seemed in top form was Rivers, who repeatedly engaged a fan seated directly behind two rows of media.

Told he was going to receive a technical foul for being too animated early in the second quarter, Rivers turned toward the fan and shot back, "Wait until the fourth quarter. It's too early."

It would soon be too late for his team, its ragged play dooming it to a deficit in a series that has shifted squarely in the Spurs' favor.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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