The Game 3 win marked their organization’s first victory in the Western Conference finals, and snapped Phoenix’s nine-game win streak which dated back to its first-round series with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It also was the third Game 3 win the Clippers have had this postseason after falling into an 0-2 series hole.
“I don’t know. I don’t like it, I’ll tell you that,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said of their third Game 3 win. “But we’ve been a resilient team all season, all year long. … It was just a total team effort. Our guys just keep grinding, keep fighting, we know our backs against the wall down 0-2, but we never give in.”
Clippers take off in third quarter to claim Game 3 win
Chris Paul returned to the starting lineup Thursday after missing the Suns’ past two games due to the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol. The time in isolation, it seems, took a bit of a toll on his game.
Paul went 0-of-6 from the field to start the game before he made a shot late in the second quarter. Devin Booker, who was forced to wear a mask after taking a shot to the face in Game 2, wasn’t any better. The duo shot a combined 4-of-20 from the field in the first half. Yet, the Suns somehow took a two-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Clippers took off in the third, though, and ended the game almost instantly. They mounted a massive 21-3 run over a nearly seven-minute stretch to take full control of the contest. Paul George even sank a half-court buzzer-beater to close out the third and give L.A. an 11-point lead heading into the final period.
“They came out in the third quarter and just brought it,” Suns coach Monty Williams said, via NBATV’s Matt Winer. “We didn’t match.”
The Clippers then opened the fourth quarter on a quick 9-2 run to claim an 18-point lead, their largest advantage of the game.
The Suns made one final push, using a 12-0 run to cut the game back down to six points. Reggie Jackson countered with a solo 5-0 run that snapped the Clippers back and allowed them to cruise to their 14-point win.
Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 18 points and nine rebounds. Paul and Booker dropped 15 points apiece, though their shooting didn’t get much better after their first-half struggles. The duo shot a combined 10-of-40 from the field, and made just three 3-pointers between them.
George led the Clippers with a near triple-double. He finished with 27 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists while shooting 9-of-25 from the field. Jackson added 23 points, and Ivica Zubac put up 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Game 4 of the series is set for Saturday night in Los Angeles.