LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tim Duncan scored 12 of his 21 points in the second half, and DeAndre Jordan was called for basket interference with 4.3 seconds left as the San Antonio Spurs moved to the brink of the second round with a 111-107 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points for the defending NBA champion Spurs, who took a 3-2 series lead with their second straight victory at Staples Center.
San Antonio’s lead dwindled to one point in the final minute after the Clippers made a desperate 7-1 run, but Blake Griffin missed a leaping leaner with five seconds left. Jordan tipped it in, but touched the ball inside the cylinder, a ruling upheld on video review.
Game 6 is Thursday in San Antonio.
San Antonio survived another nail-biting game in this spectacular series with a tenacious fourth-quarter effort. The champs took a seven-point lead and hung on after the Clippers cut the lead to one point on Matt Barnes’ free throws with 30.8 seconds left.
Danny Green missed a jumper to give one last chance to the Clippers with 6.9 seconds left. After Jordan’s disallowed tip, which was greeted with resigned acceptance by the crowd, Green hit one free throw with 4.1 seconds left.
He missed the second, but Leonard grabbed the rebound to seal the champions’ latest escape.
Griffin had 30 points and 14 rebounds, but missed two free throws with 39 seconds to play. Los Angeles missed 16 free throws overall while getting pushed to the brink of elimination.
This entertaining series grinded to a crawl in a lengthy third quarter featuring 35 combined free throws, but it picked up again in a thrilling fourth.
Jordan had 21 points and 14 rebounds while the Spurs intentionally fouled him eight times in the middle quarters, resuming their hack-happy assault on the Clippers’ poor-shooting center in the middle quarters.
San Antonio made a 10-4 surge in the final minutes aided by a technical foul on Chris Paul, who had 19 points and 10 assists.
Boris Diaw capped the surge with a desperate fling at the basket to beat the shot clock with 2:52 to play, celebrating the improbable basket with a Gallic shrug.
Griffin blamed his last-minute turnover for the Clippers’ tight loss in Game 2, and he missed two free throws in the final minute of Game 4.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers hoped his team would respond better to its second victory than its first in a series filled with serious momentum shifts. Los Angeles won the opener comfortably, but then lost two straight in an overtime thriller and a blowout.
Los Angeles responded with a gritty Game 4 in San Antonio, evening the series that was widely expected to be the best in the NBA’s opening playoff round. The teams combined for 111 regular-season victories, but were stuck in a first-round matchup thanks to the Western Conference seeding system.
The series’ fever pitch extended right into Game 5 in front of a success-hungry crowd waving red towels. Griffin paced the Clippers to an early 14-point lead, but San Antonio erased it and jumped ahead in a five-minute stretch of the first half.
Griffin was locked in from the opening tip, finishing with 21 points and eight rebounds in the first half. Los Angeles’ defense also performed splendidly, forcing 10 Spurs turnovers, but San Antonio kept it close with superior bench play.
Manu Ginobili scored 14 points, Patty Mills added 13 and Diaw had 10 off the bench.
The Spurs also intentionally fouled Jordan three times late in the first half, resuming the divisive strategy that even Spurs coach Gregg Popovich claims he uses reluctantly. Jordan, a dismal free-throw shooter, missed four of six before Rivers pulled him out.
The third quarter largely was a grim march to the line for both teams, starting with five intentional fouls committed against Jordan before Rivers pulled him again. The Spurs shot 18 free throws of their own in the third, but the teams were tied headed to the fourth.
Spurs: San Antonio has won 11 of its 14 best-of-seven series when tied 2-2. … The Spurs’ bench outscored the Clippers’ reserves 48-17.
Clippers: Rivers barely dipped into his bench, using only three reserves. Spencer Hawes and Hedo Turkoglu never got into the game. … J.J. Redick fouled out with 13 points.