Like a boxer whose constant jabbing finally drops his opponent in the later rounds of a fight, the Spurs consistently beat teams into submission with a tenacity and discipline that have defined their success since they won their first NBA title in 1999.
Point guard Tony Parker, who turned 30 on Thursday, showcased that mindset in leading the Spurs to a 105-88 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers and a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series Thursday night at the AT&T Center.
The best-of-7 series now shifts to Los Angeles, where the teams meet at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 p.m. Sunday at the Staples Center.
Parker celebrated his 30th birthday in style, finishing the Spurs' 16th consecutive victory with 22 points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Only the 2004 Spurs (17) and 2002 Los Angeles Lakers (19) have sustained longer winning streaks in the playoffs.
Parker made it clear he and his teammates don't dwell on the streak.
"We know that Game 3 is going to be very hard," Parker said. "We need to focus on that and not focus on the winning streak, or what we are doing good. We know that Saturday is going to be a long, long game and very physical."
Paul finishes with career-high eight turnovers
Although sent to the floor several times by the Clippers, Parker kept going to the basket aggressively on offense and did a number defensively on Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who committed a career-high eight turnovers and scored just 10 points.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was effusive in his praise of Parker, who was only 19 when he was selected by San Antonio in the 2001 NBA draft.
"I thought Tony played very, very aggressively and really focused, knowing full well he was going to get hit, he was going to get doubled and so on and so forth. He welcomed it, played through it and did one heck of a job."
Parker, who had only seven points but finished with 11 assists in Game 1, hit 8 of 19 shots Thursday night after making only 1 of 9 field-goal attempts in the series opener.
Spurs forward Tim Duncan scored 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting and center Boris Diaw hit all seven of his field-goal attempts and chipped in 16 points.
Guards Danny Green and Manu Ginobili finished with 13 and 10 points, respectively, to found out San Antonio's double-figure scoring.
While Duncan had another outstanding game, the spotlight shone brightest on Parker.
Duncan: Parker was great
"It was great," Duncan said of Parker's performance. "He did it on both ends. He is fighting to stay in front of Chris Paul and do all he can on that end, and he's our offense on the other end.
"He was unbelievable tonight. He was great. He kept attacking and played through the physicality. It was great for us."
Slowed by hip and groin injuries, Paul was almost an afterthought in the marquee matchup of All-Star point guards.Paul, who scored only six points in Game 1, made no excuses after Thursday night's loss.
"Just bad decisions and I have to make better passes," Paul said, responding to a question about whether he was hampered by his injuries. "I think I just have to be more aggressive and find my legs a little earlier.
"I just need to make better decisions and adjust to them keeping everybody in the paint. They are shrinking the court and basically just packing it in. They are just making me find other guys, and I need to make adjustments."
Popovich said Parker was outstanding defensively Thursday night.
"Tony did the lion's share of work tonight on Chris," he said. "He really set the tone defensively for us. He was just driven and did one hell of a job."
Griffin finishes with just one rebound
Forward Blake Griffin, who is nursing a sprained left knee, led the Clippers' scoring with 20 points but he finished with only one rebound.
"Health-wise, he looked a lot better tonight," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of Griffin. "He just had one of those nights where he needed to get more rebounds than that. Hopefully, Chris and Blake will feel a little better. We have to regroup in front of our home crowd, get our energy back up and execute a little bit better."
The Spurs, who led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter, were up 29-21 after one period and 46-42 at halftime. The Silver & Black outscored the Clippers 32-25 in the third quarter to take a 78-67 lead into the final period.
Los Angeles led only once, at 5-4, and never looked like a team that thought it could win Game 2.
The Spurs were dominant in virtually every statistical category. They hit 42 of 79 shots, including 10 of 25 from beyond the 3-point arc, for 53.2 percent, and outscored the Clippers 50-18 in the paint.
"We did a better job in the second quarter, holding them to 17 points," Del Negro said. "We turned the ball over too much tonight. We can't give them those kinds of opportunities."
The Clippers committed 18 turnovers, compared to 11 by the Spurs.