Paul George said he likes the challenge of being down 0-2 in a series and if performance on Thursday is anything to go by, the Clippers will be just fine in their series against the Phoenix Suns.
George scored 27 points as the Clippers used a dominant third quarter to earn the 106-92 victory over the Suns in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals at the Staples Center.
With Kawhi Leonard still out with a right knee sprain, George was responsible for carrying much of the offensive load. George had 15 rebounds and rebounded from missing two free throws in Game 2 that would have likely given Los Angeles the win.
The series resumes on Saturday and will be broadcast on ESPN and online on their streaming service.
”PG did a great job of just moving on and having a great game for us,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said.
Reggie Jackson had 23 points and Ivica Zubac added 15 points while tying his career playoff-high with 16 rebounds for the Clippers, who ended Phoenix’s nine-game playoff winning streak.
Los Angeles took control in the third quarter, outscoring Phoenix 34-21 in the period. The Clippers used a 21-3 run to begin the second half and never looked back from there.
The Suns got Chris Paul back in the lineup after he missed the first two games of the series due to health and safety protocol. Paul struggled in his first game in 11 days, scoring just 15 points while shooting 5-for-19 from the floor.
Cameron Payne, who filled in for Paul, left after just four minutes after twisting his ankle. That forced Suns coach Monty Williams to play Paul heavy minutes.
”Probably got tired,” Williams said of Paul’s performance, ”but it hurt us when Cam couldn’t come back so I left Chris out there for a long stretch and that’s on me.”
Devin Booker wore a clear mask to protect his nose after he collided with Clippers guard Patrick Beverly. He struggled all night, scoring just 15 points and shot 23 percent and 1-for-7 from three-point range.
DeAndre Ayton led Phoenix with 18 points.
”We weren’t sound at all,” Williams said. ”They played good defense, but we didn’t run our offense the way that we have been running for most of the playoffs.”