George dropped a postseason career-high 41 points to lead the Clippers past the Phoenix Suns116-102 in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night to keep their postseason hopes alive and bring the series to 3-2.
“We wasn’t going to back down. We wasn’t just going to throw in the towel,” George said. “The fact of the matter is, they’ve got to beat us. It’s one game for us, and it’s one game for them. One game they beat us, we’re out. One game, we continue our season on. We just had that mentality to start the game off.”
The Clippers got going early, and started on a big 20-5 tear to take control of the contest. While the Suns hung around, the Clippers maintained their lead headed into the locker room behind a 20-point first half outing from Marcus Morris — who shot an impressive 8-of-10 from the field.
Suns star Devin Booker came through with a big spark to close the second quarter, however, after he got Clippers guard Reggie Jackson flying through the air off a pump fake and then hit a huge 3-point buzzer-beater.
Paul George comes alive in second half
The Suns took their first lead of the game just minutes into the third quarter, too, after a quick 10-2 run.
That, though, didn’t last long. George dropped 20 points in the third quarter, while shooting 7-of-9 from the field. He nearly outscored the Suns on his own in the quarter, too, and propelled the Clippers to a 13-point lead headed into the fourth quarter.
Though the Suns cut the game to four points briefly in the final period, it was too late. The Clippers held Phoenix to just eight more points the rest of the way en route to their 14-point win.
Booker finished with 31 points to lead the Suns, but shot just 9-of-22 from the field. Chris Paul added 22 points and eight assists, but missed all six of his 3-point attempts in the process. Cameron Johnson finished with 14 points off the bench, and Deandre Ayton dropped 10 points with 11 rebounds.
George added 13 rebounds and six assists to go with his 41 points and shot an impressive 15-of-20 from the field.
After his brutal shooting night in their Game 4 loss — George went just 5-of-20 from the field and 1-of-9 from behind the arc on Saturday — his night was a welcome sight for Clippers fans.
“PG’s been great for us all year and I just don’t understand why it’s magnified so much when he doesn’t play well, when he has a bad game, because a lot of people play bad,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said. “I’m just happy he came back and played a great game. We needed every minute of it.”
Jackson put up 22 points and shot 4-of-7 from behind the arc for the Clippers, and Morris finished with 22. They have now won seven games so far this postseason while trailing in a series, tied for the most in NBA history.
As for the frequent criticism he receives, George insists he isn’t paying attention.
“They can judge me on what they want to. That part don’t matter to me,” he said, via USA Today’s Mark Medina. “I’ll go out there and hoop and give everything I got.”
Game 6 of the series is set for Wednesday night in Los Angeles.