TRAIL GUIDE
Our experts score the debate: How Clinton beat Trump, round-by-round
CLIPPERS

Clippers, Spurs have epic battle to close out playoff series

The defending champion San Antonio Spurs stand tall until Clippers' Chris Paul hits last-second shot

It was a heavyweight fight from the beginning to the end, the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs delivering blows and taking them from the Clippers.

In an epic battle between two of the Western Conference titans, the Spurs kept throwing punch after punch and taking punch after punch from the Clippers, until the final punch landed.

The champs stood tall until the end, losing Saturday night, 111-109, only after a lob pass to Kawhi Leonard for the tie was swatted away by Matt Barnes as time expired, sending the Spurs a defeat in Game 7 at Staples Center and home for the summer.

The ageless wonder, Tim Duncan, carried the Spurs, producing 27 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to stop the Spurs from losing the best-of-seven series, 4-3.

"We lost to a very good team, and an incredible Game 7," Duncan said. "I thought we kind of had them at certain points. They continued to fight, hit some unbelievable shots, unbelievable plays."

There were 16 ties and 31 lead changes in the game, the final two points coming from one of the biggest fighters in the game, Chris Paul, who refused to let a strained left hamstring stop him from scoring over Duncan with one second left.

The Spurs had a 55-27 regular-season record that earned them the sixth seed and a date with the third-seeded Clippers, who had a 56-26 record during the regular season.

That alone meant the series between two of the best teams in the West had the makings of an all-out effort the Spurs and Clippers gave in the seventh game.

"For this to be a first-round matchup is unbelievable," Duncan said. "As I said, we did some things throughout the season that could have kept us out of that position, but we got who we got. We ran into a better team, and they pulled it out. It was a fun game to play in and a fun series to play in. But they won it, and they move on."

After the game, the talk turned to the future for the Spurs.

Duncan turned 39 during this series and is in the final year of his contract. Manu Ginobili is 37 and in the final year of his deal. Tony Parker is 32, but has three years left on his contract.

"People ask me about Tim and Manu and myself for the last five years, what we're going to do," said Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, who signed an extension last summer. "We'll probably all come back. Paycheck is pretty good. You think I'm lying."

Either way, Duncan, Ginobili and Parker will go down as one of the best trios in the history of the NBA.

But when asked about Popovich's comments, Duncan was noncommittal.

"If that's what he said, that's what he said," Duncan said. "I'm not making any statements."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter:@BA_Turner

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
96°