It’s almost like the LA Clippers like coming back from behind in a series. For the third time in a row, they found themselves in an 0-2 hole in the playoffs, and for a third-straight Game 3, they had a convincing double-digit victory.
As they’ve done a number of times this postseason, the Clippers used a huge third quarter, which featured a 20-3 run, to blow the game wide open.
The Phoenix Suns had kept it close in the first half, and even had a 48-46 lead at halftime. They pushed that to 55-50 with 10:11 left in the third quarter, and then everything fell apart. The Clippers used their big third quarter surge to take the lead for good, and there’s plenty of credit to go around.
Fresh off his disappointing missed free throws that cost them Game 2, Paul George put up 27 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists and a steal to lead all scorers. He didn’t have a great time from the field again, shooting 9 of 26 (3 of 11 from three), but made 6 of 7 free throws.
Reggie Jackson continued his strong playoffs as well, giving the Clippers 23 points, 3 assists and 2 steals with just one turnover. At this point, it’s shocking whenever you see him left open for a three, but that’s also because the Clippers moved the ball well.
Ivica Zubac made a huge contribution too, with 15 points and 16 rebounds, and was a monster in the post as he forced a lot fouls and made 9 of 10 free throws. That helped negate DeAndre Ayton’s 18 points and 9 rebounds, and also helped the Clippers finish with a 51-43 rebounding advantage.
Terence Mann had 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting also provided the Clippers with a lot of energy, so while he’s not scoring crazy like the last game against the Jazz, he’s finding ways to make the most of his opportunities within the offense.
Last, but not least, Patrick Beverley had a monster game on the defensive end. For the second game in a row, he was in Devin Booker’s grill, and forced a lot of mistakes and bad shots. The defense definitely bothered Booker, who shot 5 of 21 and finished with 15 points, and Beverley deserves most of the credit for that. It’s a telling sign that when Beverley didn’t start Game 1 and only played 15 minutes, Booker went off for 40 points. Now, with Beverley starting and sticking to him like glue in the last to games, Booker’s averaged 17.5 points.
If the basketball gods had a script for the Clippers, it looks like they’re following it to a T. Tyronn Lue’s adjustments, and the better overall energy the Clippers showed, has paid dividends and made this a real series.
They’ll be carrying a lot of energy and high morale into Game 4, and that’s going to be a must-watch game.