Coach Gregg Popovich says the Spurs played 'soft'

San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich says the Clippers 'played harder that we did' in Game 6

The rant was classic Gregg Popovich, his words ripping his team to the core while also being designed to challenge his San Antonio Spurs.

It was a blown opportunity by the defending NBA champions, their 102-96 loss to the Clippers in Game 6 leaving the playoffs series tied at 3-3 and leaving their coach incensed enough to call them "soft" and saying they should be "embarrassed" by their play.

The Spurs had been in position to close out the Clippers in this best-of-seven series Thursday night at AT&T Center after returning here with a 3-2 lead in the series.

But they failed and now the Spurs have to play a winner-take-all Game 7 Saturday night at Staples Center.

"We lost because the Clippers were determined, physical, focused, played harder than we did," Popovich said. "We were soft with loose balls. We were soft. We'd get a rebound and they'd knock it out of our hands.

"[We had a] hard time getting open. Their physicality in that regard was great. We were just soft. It hurt us. I don't know how we stayed in the game, to be honest with you. It was very disappointing to see the group approach."

Surprisingly, the Spurs have lost their last two games at home to the Clippers.

The Spurs won Game 2 in Los Angeles and Game 3 at home to open a 2-1 lead in the series.

But they squandered the chance to put a stranglehold on the Clippers, losing Game 4 to tie the series at 2-2.

Then the Spurs showed their championship mettle, winning Game 5 in Los Angeles on Tuesday for a 3-2 lead and setting up the elimination game for the Clippers.

San Antonio then went out and shot 43.4% from the field.

"Our execution at the offensive end was really poor," Popovich said. "No excuse for it. Just poor. We should be embarrassed the way we came out for a close-out game in every regard."

Reserve Marco Belinelli was San Antonio's best weapon, his 23 points that included seven-of-11 shooting on three-pointers keeping the Spurs in the game.

But it was not enough and it caused the eruption from Popovich.

"We're not going to lie to ourselves," forward Boris Diaw said. "Coach is good with that kind of thing where he tells us the truth no matter what. He tells us when we play good, but he also tells us when we play bad or when we didn't bring enough energy.

"And for sure we came out flat at the beginning of the game. We kind of got back into it, but never quite paid near enough attention to detail and played strong enough."

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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