(AP) — This time, Paul George didn’t flinch. Playoff P showed up
and dragged the Los Angeles Clippers back from the brink.
27 points and the Clippers pulled away in a dominant third quarter,
beating newly returned Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns 106-92 on
Thursday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
to chip away, try to find ways we can be better and impose our will
on opponents,” Clippers guard Reggie Jackson said. “We showed a lot
of heart, a lot of fight.”
cut their series deficit to 2-1, ending the Suns’ franchise-record
playoff winning streak at nine games.
keep grinding, keep fighting,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We
never give in.”
remained out with a right knee sprain, leaving George to carry the
load again. After missing two crucial free throws in a one-point
loss in Game 2, George had 15 rebounds and eight assists and played
a game-high 43 minutes. He made 6 of 7 free throws.
“PG did a
great job of just moving on and having a great game for us,” Lue
The Suns got
Paul back after he missed the first two games while being sidelined
since June 16 because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The
former Clipper, who was booed heartily during intros, had 15 points
and 12 assists, but was 5 of 19 from the field.
Payne, who so ably filled in for Paul in the first two games, went
down with a left ankle injury after playing four minutes and didn’t
him a lot,” Suns guard Devin Booker said.
Monty Williams said he played Paul too much in his first game
tired,” Williams said, “but it hurt us when Cam couldn’t come back
so I left Chris out there for a longer stretch and that’s on
led the Suns with 18 points.
23 points for the Clippers, and Ivica Zubac had 15 points and tied
his career playoff high with 16 rebounds.
Game 4 is
Saturday night at Staples Center.
won the first two games by a combined seven points, the teams
played a close first half. George pumped up the Clippers going into
the locker room with a thunderous one-handed dunk.
probably killed their momentum a little bit,” Jackson said. “We’re
fortunate to have a guy like that that can do a little bit of
quickly went to work in the second half in front of 17,222 raucous,
Thunder Stix-pounding fans.
control with the biggest run of the game, a 21-3 spurt that left
them leading 71-56 in the third. Terance Mann got it going with six
straight points and Jackson scored four in a row before George
scored inside. Zubac dunked off George’s pass and made a pair of
free throws. The Suns were limited to a 3-pointer by Paul.
brought it,” Williams said. “We just didn’t match their force.”
up his third and fourth fouls in a 42-second span during the
Clippers’ run. Booker — wearing a clear mask to protect his broken
nose after he and Patrick Beverley banged heads in Game 2 — was 5
of 21 from the field, making only one of seven 3-point tries, and
finished with 15 points.
who assisted on Deandre Ayton’s winning dunk on Tuesday, fouled out
with 4:51 remaining. He had nine points, six rebounds and six
The Suns were
just 35 of 90 from the floor, despite getting decent looks.
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.”
the third by banking in a 3-pointer from just inside midcourt, and
it beat the buzzer, stunning the fans and sending the Clippers into
the fourth leading 80-69. He nearly bobbled the ball along the
right sideline, with Booker and Cam Johnson pressuring, before
getting the shot off.
opened the fourth with a 3 from the right corner, getting fouled
and making the free throw. Marcus Morris hit a three before George
got fouled. He confidently made both, keeping the Clippers ahead
basket drew the Suns within six, but Jackson answered with five
straight points and George made a pair of free throws.
to retired player Richard Hamilton on how to play wearing a mask.
Hamilton broke his nose twice during the 2003-04 season and wore a
clear plastic mask. It became his trademark and he wore it the rest
of his career.
fine,” Booker said, confirming it was broken in three places. He
had it reset and received several shots of a painkiller.
was close to being scratched after dealing with a sore knee.
Instead, he came off the bench. He hit two big 3-pointers in the
second half and finished with eight points.
“He still did
a great job,” said Mann, who started in Morris’ place. “Hit some
shots, played great defense, in there battling for every
Suns: Fell to
10-3 in the playoffs, losing for the first time since May 27
against the Lakers at Staples Center in Game 3 of the first round.
... Booker and Beverley were called for double technicals in the
third. ... Paul and Booker each missed their first six shots of the
game and were both 2 of 10 with seven points each in the first
Zubac is the first Clipper with a double-double in the first half
of a postseason game since DeAndre Jordan on April 30, 2017,
against Utah. ... Longtime fan Billy Crystal sat courtside.