Nobody makes Blake Griffin bleed his own blood. After biting through his lip during a physical first half, Griffin came out in the second with a bandage and an attitude. His 10 third-quarter points included three straight dunks that rejuvenated a dazed Staples Center crowd. The aggressive play was the catalyst that anchored the team until Bledsoe and Paul came alive in the fourth.
You didn't think Chris Paul would go quietly, did you? Paul, who hasn't been himself since injuring his hip against the Grizzlies, played the kind of MVP-caliber ball in the second half that has carried the Clippers to comeback wins all season. But even a sequence of impossible makes in the lane -- including an and-1 that dropped in off the top edge of the glass -- weren't enough when his final shot fell just short.
Eric Bledsoe's emergence has been the most significant development of this series for the Clips. Once again, he showcased a breathtaking range of talents, draining long-range jumpers, forcing turnovers and generally carving up the Spurs off the dribble. Can the Clippers find minutes for Bledsoe when they already employ the world's best point guard? Lineups including both Bledsoe and Paul were +27/100 possessions in the playoffs.
Down 3-0 against the league's hottest team, without either Paul or Griffin at full strength, it would have been easy for the Clippers to roll over, especially when the Spurs opened up a double-digit lead early. But, led by their ailing stars, the Clippers put up a valiant effort to stave off elimination, and they were a bounce away from forcing the series back to Texas.
Grading the Spurs feels like grading an assembly line. Press a button on one end and baskets come out the other. Catch, cut, pass, move without the ball, repeat. The Spurs finished off the sweep by sticking to the script, using slashers to move the Clips' D and kicking to open shooters in the corners. Despite knowing what was coming, the Clippers were unable to find answers or adjustments.