There were a few words of encouragement. They were also apparently too hot for the television.
“I can’t share this,” George said with a smile, recalling the conversation. “Beep this and beep that.” “
George established his top playoff career by scoring, Reggie Jackson added 23 and the spirited Clippers avoided elimination by beating the Phoenix Suns 116-102 on Monday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Clippers have been counted several times during these playoffs. This continues to be a mistake.
“The group of guys we have, I love these guys. They compete every night no matter who is on the pitch, ”said Lue. “The job is not done, but we entered a hostile environment and achieved a decisive victory.
“We have to do it two more times. “
The series returns to LA with the Suns holding a 3-2 advantage. Game 6 is Wednesday.
Shorthanded Clippers played without double NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Léonard and center Ivica Zubac, who missed his first game of the season with an MCL sprained right knee. They’ve already battled through two grueling wins in those playoffs, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz.
Now they are trying to recover from the Suns. The fifth game was a good start.
George was fantastic after a tough night of shooting in Game 4, scoring 20 points in the third quarter. He finished 15 of 20 on the field, including 3 of 6 on 3 points and added 13 rebounds and six assists.
“If they wanted to finish this series, they were going to have to work for it,” said George. “It’s just the mindset we had. We weren’t going to back down. We weren’t going to throw in the towel. The point is, they have to beat us.
Marcus Morris Sr., who played for Phoenix earlier in his career, added 22 points on 9 of 16 shots.
The Suns trailed up to 15 points in the first half, but took their first advantage in the third when Chris Paul knocked down a 16-foot jumper for a 62-61 lead. The Clippers responded with the next 10 points and then started sinking 3 points. George hit 3s back to back and Patrick Beverley added one to push LA past 82-70, waving to the Suns crowd as he raced back into the field.
It was the common theme of the night: Whenever the Suns gained momentum, the Clippers were there to hastily crush it.
The Clippers took a 91-78 lead in the fourth. The Suns closed 98-94 with 6:58 to go but LA responded with a 10-2 run and moved away for the win.
Devin Booker led the Suns with 31 points. Paul – who is attempting to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in 16 years of his career – added 22 points and eight assists. Deandre Ayton had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“We have to be better,” said Paul. “They came out and they were the aggressors. They looked like us in Game 4. They hit us, they were too comfortable and we have to be better. “
The Clippers played inspired basketball in the first half, taking a 20-5 lead midway through the first quarter. Jackson threw a huge one-handed jam during the run and LA hit nine of his first 11 shots.
“It’s just unacceptable the way we started the game,” said Suns coach Monty Williams. “It was a big hole for us. It’s pretty obvious that we can’t play with the show-up mentality. We showed up in the first quarter and they played with desperation. “
Morris was 6 of 7 in the first and Jackson buzzed to give the Clippers a 36-26 advantage before the second.
The Suns reduced the advantage to 44-42 halfway through the second, but the Clippers rallied again to take the lead by 10. Booker scored 3 points at halftime to cut the advantage. of the Clippers 59-52.
Morris collected 20 points in the first half.
The Suns are looking for their first NBA Finals since 1993. The Clippers have never been this far in the playoffs.
Lawn mowers: DeMarcus Cousins had 10 points in just six minutes in the first half. He made 5 of 9 shots, putting a shot to the rim once every 40 seconds on average. … Leonard missed his seventh straight game. … It was the Clippers’ sixth double-digit victory when they fell behind in a playoff series. That’s the most of those wins in a single playoff series in NBA history.
Suns: F Abdel Nader played his second game in a row after missing several weeks with a knee injury. He scored two points. … Phoenix announced a sold-out crowd of 16,664 people.
The 7ft Zubac has been an ironman for Los Angeles and it was the first game he missed in two years. Coach Tyronn Lue admitted the Clippers were down in the morning shootout after hearing Zubac would not be playing.
Zubac played a bigger role in those Western Conference Finals, averaging 12.8 points and 11 rebounds in the first four games. He also played an important role in defense as a rim protector.
The Clippers grew small to replace Zubac in the starting lineup, with the 6-foot-5 Terance Mann.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports