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SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 15: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs posts up against Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 15, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Wednesday, May 16 at 7:36 AM
So much for the rust factor.
While a bit sluggish early after an eight-day layoff, the Spurs got their mojo back with plenty of time to roll to a 108-92 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series Tuesday night.
A sellout crowd of 18,581 at the AT&T Center watched the Spurs, the top seed in the Western Conference, win their 15th consecutive game.
Game 2 is at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the AT&T Center.
Spurs captain Tim Duncan, who had expressed concern about the long layoff, was outstanding on both ends of the court and finished with a double-double.
Called "the anchor" of his team by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Duncan scored a team-high 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
"Tim was solid as usual," Popovich said. "He's played like that all year long. He's not going to do anything that's going to be on a highlight film for TV, but highlight film for coaches possibly."
Manu Ginobili added 22 points, and Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green finished with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Center Boris Diaw also had a key role in the victory, finishing with a game-high 12 rebounds and handing out five assists.
"Just like we said before the game, we knew it was going to take a while to knock that rust off and we hoped things would go well early on and it did," Duncan said. "I missed some shots early and then I got a couple to go. My teammates moved the ball really well and I got a couple of layups."
Spurs tie franchise playoff record with 13 treys
The game was the Spurs' first since they completed a sweep of the Utah Jazz on May 7.
The Spurs outrebounded the Clippers 47-34 and hit 39 of 80 shots for 48.8 percent. They canned 13 of 25 attempts from 3-point range, tying a franchise playoff record for most treys in a game, set against Utah in 2007.
Backup guard Eric Bledsoe finished with a career-high 23 points to lead the Clippers, who were coming off a physically and emotionally draining victory against Memphis on Sunday in Game 7 of their first-round series.
Bledsoe, who made 10 of 16 shots, led a Clippers bench that outscored the Spurs' backups 46-37.
The Clippers made 37 of 83 shots for 44.6 percent and 9 of 19 (47.4 percent) from beyond the 3-point line.
All-Star point guards Chris Paul of the Clippers and Tony Parker of the Spurs essentially canceled each other out in their marquee matchup.
Slowed by a hip-flexor injury, Paul finished with just six points on 3-of-13 shooting, but he dished out 10 assists.
While Popovich credited Parker and Green for slowing down Paul, he stopped short of saying the Spurs defense put the clamps on him.
"Just because we won the game tonight doesn't mean we played the good defense," Popovich said. "They were physical, they played tough, they did well. I think Parker and Green did a Green did a good job on Chris Paul, and Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe did a hell of a job on Tony.
"So it's both ways. Just look at the stats for those guys. They're probably both scratching their heads."
Hobbled Griffin finishes with 15 points
Parker had similar numbers as Paul, getting just seven points and finishing with a game-high 11 assists. Hounded by the Clippers every time he tried to penetrate into the paint, Parker made only 1 of 9 shots.
"He didn't score but he got 11 assists," Ginobili said. "This is who were are. Sometimes it is not going to be him (Parker), sometimes it is not going to be Tim (Duncan). If we move the ball well and we fine our open teammates, we are going to make shots.
"Today we shot 52 percent from the three. We really do not care if he is the one scoring 25 points. The important thing is to move the ball, attack and kick, and find the open teammate. We did that very well."
Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, nursing a sprained left knee that limited him in the last two games of the series against Memphis, and small forward Caron Butler finished with 15 points each.
Butler, who has a fracture in his left hand, made 3 of 7 shots from beyond the arc.
The game was tied at 29 after one quarter, but the Spurs pulled ahead 57-49 at halftime and led 87-72 heading into the final period. The Spurs led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, while the Clippers were never ahead by more than two before the Silver & Black seized control of the game.
The Spurs outscored the Clippers 42-30 in the paint, but the Clippers finished with more fast-break points (17-9).
"We weren't able to slow them down," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, who played six seasons for the Spurs in the 1990s. "The tempo was in their favor a lot. We missed a lot of easy shots, which got them out in the open court."