LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – Paul George scored 37 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers, playing without injured Kawhi Leonard, to a surprising 119-111 win over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night (June 16) in Game 5 of their National Basketball Association (NBA) Western Conference semi-final series.
Marcus Morris Sr. added 25 points and Reggie Jackson fired in 22 points to help Los Angeles take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. The fourth-seeded Clippers can eliminate the top-seeded Jazz in Los Angeles in Game 6 on Friday.
Despite the absence of Leonard, who was sidelined due to a sprained right knee, the Clippers withstood a blistering first-half shooting performance by the Jazz to win their third consecutive game after falling behind 0-2 in the series.
George grabbed a playoff-career high of 16 rebounds and dished out a team-high five assists.
Bojan Bogdanovic hit nine three-pointers and scored 32 points to lead the Jazz.
Donovan Mitchell, limited by a sprained ankle, added 21 points, five assists and five rebounds for Utah.
The Jazz again played without Mike Conley, who has yet to appear in the series because of a strained right hamstring.
Utah hit 17 of 30 three-point attempts in the first half but only took a 65-60 lead into the locker room. Bogdanovic hit his first six long-distance attempts in the first quarter and had 18 points in the opening period and 23 by half-time.
The Clippers scored 17 points off the Jazz’s 11 first-half turnovers to neutralise Utah’s early hot shooting.
The third quarter was the turning point for Los Angeles.
The Clippers outscored the Jazz 17-5 to open the second half and eventually established a 10-point lead in the third quarter. Utah missed all 10 of their three-point attempts in the period and was outscored 32-18 as Los Angeles turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 92-83 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Rudy Gobert, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, kept the Jazz within striking distance with three consecutive inside buckets.
Utah pulled within three midway through the fourth quarter after a Mitchell layup and free throw, but Jackson responded with a clutch three-pointer and a layup.
The Jazz kept fighting and were within four before the Clippers’ Terance Mann exploded toward the basket and slammed the ball over Gobert. He added a free throw after the highlight-reel play to give the Clippers a 110-103 lead with 2min 39sec to go.
After a Mitchell drive brought Utah within four once, George responded with another three-point play, putting the Clippers up 113-106 with 1:48 to go.
The Clippers ended up shooting 51.2 per cent from the field including a 40 per cent performance (16 of 40) from three-point range. The Jazz shot 45 per cent overall and hit just 20 of 54 deep shots (37 per cent) despite the red-hot start.
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