Los Angeles Clippers live to play another day. The Clippers, who faced elimination for the third time this season at Game 5 on Monday night, showed that they were not ready for the end of the season as they won 116-102 against the Phoenix Suns. With the win, the Clippers forced a Game 6 that goes down at the Staples Center on Wednesday night.
Paul George led the way for the Clippers, adding a maximum of 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in a playoff career. In the process, he became the first clipper with a 40/10/5 playoff performance. George now has at least 20 points from all 18 games he has played so far this season, and he is the fourth player to open a post-season with more than 20 points. The other three players are Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
Paul also received some serious help from Marcus Morris, Timurcus Cousins and Reggie Jackson. The trio combined for 60 points and 10 rebounds. On the other side of the field, Devin Booker accelerated the Suns with 31 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Chris Paul added 22 points and eight assists. In the end, their production was not enough to end the series and win the first NBA Finals berth in Phoenix since 1993.
This game was an inspiring game for the clippers and disappointing for the Phoenix team, but no team can stay in it for long because they will be back in 6 to 48 hours of the game. Before going into that game though, here are three key trips from LA’s Game 6 win.
1. Paul replied at George
If the Clippers are going to extend their season on Monday night without Kavi Leonard sidelined with a knee injury, they will need a big time performance from Paul George, and that’s what they got. As LA’s season was in balance, George progressed in a key way, especially in the second half. After a handsome pedestrian scored 11 points in the first half, George blasted for 30 points in the second half. Overall, he conceded 41 points, the most he has ever scored in a playoff game, and his production was crucial to LA’s victory in Game 5.
George not only presented the points, but he did so in a very efficient manner. George tried only 20 shots on his way to his 41 points, of which he made 15 points. That’s 75 percent shooting from the field. He shot 50 percent from a long distance (3 in 6) and made eight of his free throws. He added 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals to a good extent. It’s an epic performance by George, who continues to do the commendable job of guiding the clippers to the end of the attack in the absence of Leonard.
2. ‘Others’ have accelerated to LA
Paul George was fantastic on Monday night, but he did not win the game just for LA. On the contrary, as Shahul O’Neill puts it, he got a lot of help from role players or “others.” That said, the trio of Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson and Timurcus Cousins were too big for LA Morris to deliver some of the much-needed offenses to the Clippers early in Game 5, while George started off a bit slow. Morris had 13 points from 6 of 7 shots in the first quarter, and he finished the game with 22 points, while shooting 56 percent off the field. Clippers are now 8-0 when Morris shoots 50 percent or more.
Cousins saw a few minutes to LA in the latter season, but he took advantage of his court opportunity in Game 5. Cousins scored 15 points off the ground in his 11 minutes, and that total represents a post-season career for the former All-Star.
If you were a clipper, you would not have heard much from your cousins. Similarly, Jackson is better than anyone expected to go into post-season drama. Jackson has been providing continuous attack production for clippers, and Game 5 is no different. He finished with 23 points, five rebounds and three assists, and was a game high plus-21 during his time on the court.
If the Clippers get a similar production from all three of these players in Game 6, they will have a better chance of extending the series again and forcing a seventh and final game.
3. Another quiet night from Michael Bridges
Michael Bridges did not have his best series against the Clippers. He has scored six-thirds or less points in five games so far, and he has a total of 11 points in Sport 4 (six points) and 5 (five points). This decline in production was not the best considering the fact that the Bridges averaged 13.5 points per game for the Suns in the regular season, and they relied on him for sub-attack releases. The release of Bridges is even more important as the clippers focus more on their defensive efforts on the Booker and Paul duo. With his playing ability and his site break, Bridges has the ability to play a game in favor of the Phoenix, but he has not been a factor much in the last two games. The Suns should try to get him to the start of Game 6 and maybe get him some open chances from the perimeter by running him through some screens. When he clicks at the end of the attack, it opens things up for everyone else.
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