Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was looking for a prime performance from both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. They both delivered Grade A games to get Los Angeles back into its second-round series against Utah.
Leonard scored 34 points and George added 31 in the Clippers’ 132-106 victory in Game 3 on Saturday night. It is the second time both have scored at least 30 in the same playoff game, and helped No. 4 seed LA cut top-seeded Utah’s series lead to 2-1.
“We know that they are two of the best in the league,” Lue said. “Like I said yesterday, I don’t go to Mastro’s to order the ketchup. I go to order the steak. And tonight, our guys want steak. That’s what we need.”
“I think I just shot my shots, got the shots I’m most comfortable with and stuck with it,” George said.
Leonard scored 24 points in the second half. It is his fourth career postseason game with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Three have come in his two seasons with the Clippers.
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The big nights from Leonard and George helped offset another high-scoring game from Donovan Mitchell. The guard led Utah with 30 points, his fifth straight games with at least 30. The last player to do that was Leonard last year in the first round against Dallas.
“We kind of let them get comfortable. George hit some shots, but we can make it tougher on him and Kawhi,” Mitchell said.
Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum added 17 points apiece for the Clippers. LA had struggled from the perimeter in the first two games but was 19 of 36 on 3-pointers with many coming on open looks.
Joe Ingles had 19 points for Utah and Jordan Clarkson added 14. The Jazz were 19 of 44 on 3-pointers, but 17 of 40 inside the arc as the Clippers’ zone defence caused problems. Utah committed 16 turnovers, which led to 24 LA points.
“I’ve said it the last two games as well. Kawhi and PG, they’re capable of really making plays and they made plays for other people. There’s going to be times where it’s tough to stop them from making shots,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “Some of the breakdowns and the cleaner looks that they get, particularly tonight I thought in transition when we attacked the basket there’s got to be urgency to recognize that situation and really get back and show a crowd where they don’t have clear lanes to the basket.”
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