Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was looking for a prime performance from both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. They both delivered Grade A games to get Los Angeles back into its second-round series against Utah.
Leonard scored 34 points and George added 31 in the Clippers’ 132-106 victory in Game 3 on Saturday night. It is the second time both have scored at least 30 in the same playoff game, and helped No. 4 seed LA cut top-seeded Utah’s series lead to 2-1.
“We know that they are two of the best in the league,” Lue said. “Like I said yesterday, I don’t go to Mastro’s to order the ketchup. I go to order the steak. And tonight, our guys want steak. That’s what we need.”
George shot only 34.3% from the field in the first two games but was 12 of 24, including 6 of 10 on 3-pointers. He had 13 points in the second quarter, eight during a 13-2 run when LA seized control and took a 57-41 advantage with 2:54 remaining.
“I think I just shot my shots, got the shots I’m most comfortable with and stuck with it,” George said.
Leonard scored 24 points in the second half. It is his fourth career postseason game with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Three have come in his two seasons with the Clippers.
The big nights from Leonard and George helped offset another high-scoring game from Donovan Mitchell. The guard led Utah with 30 points, his fifth straight games with at least 30. The last player to do that was Leonard last year in the first round against Dallas.
“We kind of let them get comfortable. George hit some shots, but we can make it tougher on him and Kawhi,” Mitchell said.
Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum added 17 points apiece for the Clippers. LA had struggled from the perimeter in the first two games but was 19 of 36 on 3-pointers with many coming on open looks.