San Antonio's indifferent play evens series with Clippers

San Antonio's indifferent play evens series with Clippers
San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan questions why he was called for a foulduring the first half of Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on April 26, 2015. (Darren Abate / Associated Press)

All of the catchphrases Gregg Popovich delivered were telling in how the San Antonio coach chose to admonish his players.

He said things like "lacked a lot of discipline," "didn't execute," "not very wise" and "lack of focus," words that described the Spurs' indifferent approach during their 114-105 loss to the Clippers on Sunday in Game 4 of the Western Conference playoff series at AT&T Center.

It was Popovich's way of expressing his disapproval to the Spurs, his way of conveying a message to his team that's tied 2-2 in the best-of-seven series.

The Spurs lost the home-court advantage they took away from the Clippers by splitting the first two games in Los Angeles. Now the Spurs return to Staples Center for Game 5 on Tuesday night knowing the Clippers are back focused on the task ahead.


"There were a lot of things going on out there," Popovich said. "I think in general, we lacked a lot of discipline. We didn't execute sharply enough in what we wanted to do strategy-wise or just in general basketball play.

"I thought [we] were just not very wise in a lot of the situations. The period where we just gave six free throws in a row for fouls that were just absolutely meaningless for no reason. We had some periods in the game like that, which were disappointing. I think the lack of focus in that regard really hurt us."

As it turned out, the game turned for good against the Spurs on a strategic play that backfired against Popovich — the Hack-a-Jordan.

The Spurs had just taken a one-point lead late in the third period on a Kawhi Leonard runner, when Popovich instructed his players to intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan with 2:46 left in the quarter.

Jordan missed both free throws, but the Clippers were in the bonus.

Inexplicably, the Spurs fouled Chris Paul on three consecutive trips down court.

Paul (34 points) easily made all six free throws, the last two giving the Clippers a five-point lead that they never lost.

"We gave up six points in that respect," forward Tim Duncan said. "Those are plays that we can clean up. Those are plays that we can stay away from. So it's going to backfire sometimes."

The Spurs were on their heels the rest of the way, falling behind by 14 points in the fourth quarter, scrambling to unsuccessfully catch up.

"They were a lot more consistent then we were throughout the game," Duncan said. "I don't really see lack of focus or whatever else. I thought we were competing. I thought we were there. We just couldn't make the stops in a row when it counted."

And the Spurs couldn't make shots, shooting 44% from the field against a more aggressive Clippers defense, shooting just 24% (six for 25) against a Clippers defense that chased San Antonio's shooters off the three-point line.

"Today, they were inspired," guard Manu Ginobili said. "Chris Paul was really sharp and made a lot of shots. [J.J.] Redick, [Jamal] Crawford, everybody played a good game and we were not as inspired."

Twitter: @BA_Turner