The Los Angeles Clippers took the lead for good with a 21-3 third-quarter run in a 106-92 victory over the Phoenix Suns Thursday evening, cutting the deficit in the NBA’s Western Conference finals to two games to one.
Clippers forward Paul George scored a game-high 27 points and guard Reggie Jackson added 23, including 10 in the fourth quarter, before a sellout crowd of 17,222 at Staples Center.
Game 4 of the best-of-seven series will be played Saturday at Staples Center.
Terrace Mann scored the first four points and the last two during the run that gave the Clippers a 71-56 lead with three minutes, 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
George ended the quarter with a 46-foot 3-point basket to put the Clippers ahead 80-69, one of his three 3-point baskets on 11 attempts. He made nine of 26 shots and six of seven free throws.
The Clippers held their biggest lead, 89-71, with 10:16 remaining. Phoenix responded with by scoring 12 unanswered points, cutting the deficit to 89-83 with 7:13 left.
The Clippers scored the next seven points on a layup and 3-point basket by Jackson and two free throws by George and led by at least 10 for the rest of the game.
The Clippers outrebounded the Suns 51-43, with center Ivica Zubac pulling down a game-high 16 and George 15.
Center Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 18, while guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul added 15 each. Paul made five of 19 shots and had a game-high 12 assists.
The game was Paul’s first in the series. He missed the first two games because of what the team described as health and safety protocols.
The loss ended the Suns’ team-record nine-game playoff winning streak which began with victories in each of the final three games of their first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Clippers star forward Kawhi Leonard missed his fifth consecutive game because of a right knee sprain.
Zubac had the game’s best plus-minus ratio at plus-28, meaning the Clippers outscored Phoenix by 28 in the 32:34 he was on the court. Ayton had the worst at minus-25.