Los Angeles Clippers stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard combined for 65 points in Saturday’s 132-106 win over the Utah Jazz, which they approach 2-1 in this NBA Western Conference semifinal.
The Clippers avoided a 3-0 against that no team has come back in NBA history and are confident of a comeback like the one they starred in the first round against the Mavericks, in which they also started 2-0 down.
Kawhi Leonard, with 34 points and 12 rebounds, and Paul George, with 31 points and 6 triples, imposed their law against some Jazz who took a great scare in the fourth quarter with the withdrawal of their star, Donovan Mitchell, to the dressing room.
The All-Star guard, who remains in a state of grace with 30 points in 32 minutes, suffered from his right ankle injury after a bad fall in a contested shot to the basket.
Mitchell, who starred in two shows in Utah with 45 and 37 points, went to the locker room with seven minutes remaining but was soon back on the bench.
Given the wide difference in the score in favor of the Clippers, coach Quin Snyder preferred not to introduce his figure as a precaution and Mitchell sat down receiving medical treatment before leaving the court for good with his teammates limping again.
“It was my decision not to put him back on, but he’s fine,” Snyder said later. “He could have gone back in but the game had escaped us at that point. It did not make sense”.
Mitchell, 24, was out for almost a month and a half before the playoffs with this ankle injury.
The Jazz, the best team in the NBA in the regular season, also could not count on their veteran point guard Mike Conley again on Saturday, with hamstring problems.
– Living on the wire –
Faced with Clippers who were practically risking their future, the Jazz soon sent a message at the Staples Center with an initial 8-0 run to which Clippers coach Ty Lue responded with a quick time-out.
Paul George, who Lue demanded more confidence and aggressiveness in this series, took the offensive reins of the Clippers along with point guard Reggie Jackson, who finished with 17 points and 5 triples.
The former base of the Thunder and the Pistons has finally found his place in the Los Angeles team in these playoffs, taking advantage of the double defenses on George and Leonard to punish from the line of three.
On the other hand, Mitchell had a weak first quarter in which he was left without a score, for the first time since 2019, while Joe Ingles (19 points) and substitute Jordan Clarkson (14 points) maintained their accuracy in triples from the first games.
Paul George, very irregular in these playoffs, offered his best version in the first half finishing with 20 points.
At the beginning I said to myself “just shoot, just shoot, without thinking about the result, shoot again,” said the forward. “I went out to be aggressive, to find my shot and hold it.”
In the second half it was Kawhi Leonard who took over for the Clippers with 12 points in an impressive third quarter.
By then Mitchell, with 5 triples, had already warmed up and threatened to cause a tight finish, putting the Jazz 10 points behind just before injuring himself.
The victory offers a respite to some Clippers who have lived on the wire since the first round against Luka Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks, in which they rallied two disadvantages to win in Game 7.
The Los Angeles team will try to level the tie in Game 4 on Monday again at the Staples Center. (AFP) (GG)