One view is that San Antonio squandered an opportunity to push the Clippers to the playoff ledge.
Now the Spurs and Clippers stand tied at 2-2 in the best-of-seven series, both teams knowing the winner of Game 5 on Tuesday night at Staples Center will leave one of them on the brink of elimination.
"The whole point is to get to four," said Spurs forward Tim Duncan after the Clippers' win Sunday to even the series. "You get three, you have a better chance, obviously. It's not over until you get that fourth game.
"The close-out game is going to be tough no matter which way it goes. But the one in front of us right now is this fifth game. It's on the road. It's on their home court. That's good for them, obviously. But we've won there before."
Before the start of Game 4 on Sunday, the Spurs appeared to be in control of the series.
They had won two straight games, had taken away the home-court advantage from the Clippers with a stirring overtime victory in Game 2 in Los Angeles and had the next two games in AT&T Center, where the Spurs were 33-8 during the regular season.
The Spurs won Game 3 with ease, riding the wave of Kawhi Leonard's brilliant performance.
But they failed to capitalize on the momentum, with the defending NBA champions making uncharacteristic mistakes in Game 4 while continuing to shoot poorly.
"We've got things we can clean up real easily," Duncan said after Sunday's game. "So we have to do that and get ready for their best shot."
Making some shots would help.
For the series, the Spurs are shooting 44.5% from the field, and an unsightly 31.8% from three-point range.
Spurs guard Danny Green, after a 0-for-6 Game 4, is making only 29% of his shots in the series.
But at least there has been a Tony Parker sighting for the Spurs.
Parker began the series out of sorts, going seven for 28 from the field for 17 total points in the first three games while dealing with injuries to his left ankle, left thigh and right Achilles' tendon. He responded with 18 points on seven-for-15 shooting in Game 4.
"It was great to see him going to the basket and making plays for us," Duncan said. "That'll pay big dividends for us the rest of the series. Something else they'll have to game-plan for."
Since Gregg Popovich has been San Antonio's coach, the Spurs have won 11 of 14 best-of-seven series when tied at two.
They have to win two more games to advance, the same as the Clippers.
"It's hard because we were in a great situation, but it happens," the Spurs' Manu Ginobili said. "They are a good team. It's not like we were supposed to have it easy. They are tough, and we're going to have to play much better and not make so many mistakes. We need to try and get that home-court advantage back."