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PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JUNE 28: Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns shoots under pressure from Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers during the second half in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on June 28, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo : Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Clippers kept their title hopes alive after beating the Phoenix Suns, 116-102, in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. Paul George once again stole the show for the Clippers, who head back to Los Angeles for Game 6 with just a 3-2 series deficit.
After stealing Game 4 on the road with a nerve-wracking 84-80 win, many were expecting the Suns to close out the series in Game 5 and clinch their first NBA Finals berth since 1993.
Unfortunately for the long-suffering Phoenix faithful, the Clippers did not get the said memo as they extended the Western Finals to a sixth game with a stirring performance on Monday night.
George explodes to force Game 6
Leading the way for LA in Game 5 was Paul George. He was once again spectacular for the Clippers, scoring a playoff career-high 41 points on 15 of 20 shooting from the field. He poured in 20 of those points in the third quarter, a period in which both teams made huge runs.
After trailing by as much as 15 points, the Suns finally took the lead on a Chris Paul jumper that made it 62-61 in favor of Phoenix. The Clippers answered back, though, going on a 21-8 run to build an 82-70 lead. They maintained that advantage until the end of the third quarter as they entered the payoff period with a 91-78 lead.
The Suns would not die, though, as they once again embarked on a late run. They sliced the Clips’ advantage to just four points with 6:58 left. The Clippers, however, made sure the wild crowd went silent again as they responded with a 10-2 blast that all but sealed the Suns’ fate in this game.
There were plenty of heroes for LA in this masterful road win. Reggie Jackson scored 23 points on 8 of 14 shooting from the floor, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Marcus Morris Sr. finally woke up from his offensive slumber, scoring 22 points on 9 of 16 shooting from the field.
DeMarcus Cousins also was a beast down low for the Clips as he stepped up big time in the absence of Ivica Zubac, who was sidelined just minutes before the start of Game 5 with a knee sprain. Cousins wreaked havoc against the Suns’ frontcourt, scoring 15 points off the bench.
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Lue’s tactics spot on in Game 5
Monday’s victory, however, would not be possible without the game-long brilliance of George, who continues to impress in this postseason. Fatigue was not an option for George in Game 5 even though he has already played 735 minutes in 18 games this postseason, the most by any player in these playoffs.
It wasn’t just George’s scoring that took centerstage in Game 5, as he also had 13 rebounds, six assists, and three steals in the blowout win. Much of the credit should also be given to head coach Tyronn Lue who improved to 10-2 when coaching teams facing elimination.
His decision to go small when Ayton was on the court befuddled the Suns all game long. When Ayton made his way to the bench, Lue switched it up and went with Cousins on the frontcourt. Those moves paid dividends for the Clips, who held Ayton to just 10 points in Game 5 while Cousins had his best showing in this year’s playoffs.
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