The LA Clippers showed their true potential with the dominating performances of their superstar duo, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who combined for 65 points and brought coach Ty Lue into the fight after a 0-2 deficit. with which they started the series against the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference Semifinals. Clippers earned their first 132-106 series win Saturday afternoon at Staples Center to close the gap 2-1.
“It’s what we need from our two best players, to set the pace and show the way for everyone else,” said coach Lue.
Kawhi had a double-double of 34 points and 12 rebounds, while Paul had 31 points with 12 of 24 shooting from the field. The version of Paul George shown in this match is precisely the version that fans want to see and the one that his team needs in order to be successful.
“We are a different team (when PG starts a game that way). We know it because they have shown it all season. The most important thing in defense was to take on the challenge of Donovan (Mitchell), PG did a great job on that today.” Lue said. “We are not going to score every night, we know that, but defensively we have to be strong. Today we did that, we made some mistakes, but in general terms we played intense, physical and when you compete like that at a high level, you make up for the mistakes.”
Clippers started the game somewhat slow again, with a losing streak of 0-8 on the scoreboard in the first three possessions. Coach Tyronn Lue asked for a time-out and from then on, it seemed that the attitude changed and they did not back down.
Paul George was instrumental in that energy shift early in the game, both on offense and taking Donovan Mitchell’s personal best. The Jazz star went zero in the first quarter.
Clippers managed to contain the version of Donovan Mitchell shown in the first two games of the series, in which he achieved a total of 82 points. This Saturday, his account was at 30 units, so the damage to the Angelenos was less.
“We emphasized that (Mitchell) was not going to beat us today, we were going to force everyone else to play and we were not going to let him shoot easy or have open shots early in the game,” PG13 said.
Mitchell continues to set records for his team and despite the loss, he managed to make history for the Utah franchise. He became the second player with at least 30 points in five consecutive Playoff games, one less than Karl Malone’s mark.
Alarms went off in the final set for Utah fans, when Mitchell fell uncomfortably after a dunk attempt on his already sore right ankle. Donovan trudged out of the game, though he returned to the bench after being evaluated. The coaches chose to leave him on the bench, as the deficit on the scoreboard was already too great. Mitchell said he felt good postgame for Game 4.
Nicolas Batum contributed 17 points for the Clippers, as did Reggie Jackson coming off the bench, contributing greatly to the Los Angeles win.
“Reggie (Jackson) had a great game today, also Nico (Batum) and pretty much everyone on the bench bringing energy, making shots, playing defense. Luke (Kennard) made shots, Terance Mann contributed defense, Pat (Beverly) the energy. In general we are not a selfish team, we just want to make the right plays on the court, “shared Kawhi Leonard.
Game 4 will be Monday at Staples Center.