Paul George unloaded 37 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers, playing without injured Kawhi Leonard, to a surprising 119-111 win over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City in Game 5 of a Western Conference semifinal series on Wednesday night, June 16 (Thursday, June 17, Manila time).
Marcus Morris Sr. added 25 points and Reggie Jackson fired 22 points to help Los Angeles take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The fourth-seeded Clippers can eliminate the top-seeded Jazz in Los Angeles in Game 6 on Friday.
Despite the absence of Leonard, who was sidelined due to a sprained right knee, the Clippers withstood a blistering first-half shooting performance by the Jazz to win their third consecutive game after falling behind 0-2 in the series.
George grabbed a playoff career-high 16 rebounds and dished out a team-high 5 assists.
Bojan Bogdanovic hit nine three-pointers and scored 32 points to lead the Jazz.
Donovan Mitchell, limited by a sprained ankle, added 21 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds for Utah.
The Jazz again played without Mike Conley, who has yet to appear in the series because of a strained right hamstring.
The Jazz hit 17-of-30 three-point attempts in the first half but only took a 65-60 lead into the locker room. Bogdanovic hit his first six long-distance attempts in the first quarter and had 18 points in the opening period and 23 by halftime.
The Clippers scored 17 points off the Jazz’s 11 first-half turnovers to neutralize Utah’s early hot shooting.
The third quarter was the turning point for Los Angeles.
The Clippers outscored the Jazz 17-5 to open the second half and eventually established a 10-point lead in the third quarter. Utah missed all 10 of its three-point attempts in the period and was outscored 32-18 as Los Angeles turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 92-83 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Rudy Gobert, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, kept the Jazz within striking distance with three consecutive inside buckets.
Utah pulled within three midway through the fourth quarter after a Mitchell layup and free throw, but Jackson responded with a clutch triple and a layup.
The Jazz kept fighting and were within four before the Clippers’ Terance Mann exploded toward the basket and slammed the ball over Gobert. He added a free throw after the highlight-reel play to give the Clippers a 110-103 lead with 2:39 to go.
After a Mitchell drive brought Utah within four once, George responded with another three-point play, putting the Clippers up 113-106 with 1:48 to go.
The Clippers ended up shooting 51.2% from the field including a 40% performance (16-of-40) from three-point range. The Jazz shot 45% overall and hit just 20-of-54 deep shots (37%) despite the red-hot start. – Rappler.com