LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – The Los Angeles Clippers are right back in this series.
Kawhi Leonard had 34 points and 12 rebounds, Paul George added 31 points and the Clippers pulled away late for a 132-106 victory in Game 3 on Saturday night at the Staples Center.
Leonard and George each scored at least 30 in the same playoff game for the second time to help the Clippers cut Utah’s series lead to 2-1.
The Clippers shot 56 percent from the field, and 53 percent from 3-point range.
Despite going scoreless in the first quarter, Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and re-injured his right ankle in the fourth quarter. Mitchell said he could have returned to the game if it was closer.
“I’m good,” Mitchell said. “I feel like I was able to go back, but there was no need to risk it down 16, 18 at that point. I’ll be fine.”
George shot only 34.3% from the field in the first two games but was 12 of 24, including 6 of 10 on 3-pointers. He had 13 points in the second quarter, eight during a 13-2 run when LA seized control and took a 57-41 advantage with 2:54 remaining in the first half.
Leonard scored 24 points in the second half. Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum added 17 points apiece for the Clippers.
“Kawhi and PG, they’re capable of really making plays and they made plays for other people,” Utah head coach Quin Snyder said. “There’s going to be times where it’s tough to stop them from making shots. 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.”
Game 4 is Monday night at Staples Center.
Mitchell made 11 of 24 shots from the field, and now has five straight games with at least 30 points. The last player to do that was Leonard last year in the first round against Dallas.
“We just made an emphasis that he’s not going to beat us tonight,” said George of Mitchell. “We’re going to force everybody else to play and we’re just not going to let him walk in shots tonight and get the looks that he wanted early tonight.”
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 defense caused problems.
“They were making shots and we just weren’t the same,” Ingles said. “We weren’t aggressive, we weren’t kind of dictating to them what we wanted to do defensively, they kind of got downhill a bit more, got in the paint.”
“I think for us it’s just, being able to play through their physicality and make sure we keep attacking the rim,” said Rudy Gobert, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds per game. “With a drive or with a pass and then everything else opens up.”
Mitchell missed his first four shots, including a pair of drives to the basket, and didn’t make his first basket until there was 7:34 left in the second quarter. He then proceeded to score Utah’s next 16 points, which included four 3-pointers.
It was the first time in his last 23 games that Mitchell had gone scoreless in the first quarter.
All-Star Mike Conley missed his third straight game because of a mild right hamstring strain.