Paul George scored 32 points, Kawhi Leonard added 23 along with a big late block, and the dynamic duo helped the Los Angeles Clippers rally in the fourth quarter for a 113-107 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series Monday night.
Leonard did a little bit of everything as he grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out six assists. He also had two blocks, including one late on a shot by Jamal Murray at the rim.
Los Angeles takes a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Wednesday.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers called a timeout to calm down the Clippers with 8:29 left and trailing, 97-90. Fueled by defense, Los Angeles went on a 14-4 run to take a 104-101 lead. The Clippers wouldn’t trail again.
Lou Williams sealed the win with a driving layup that extended the lead to 6 with 2:04 left. George turned in a torrid shooting night. He finished 12 of 18 from the floor, including five 3-pointers.
Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists for Denver despite a sore right wrist that had him questionable before the game.
The All-Star center had the pass of the night in the third quarter, when he grabbed a rebound, quickly spun around and sent a perfect, full-court strike to Jerami Grant for a dunk.
Jokic proved to be a handful for the Clippers with JaMychal Green, Ivica Zubac, and Montrezl Harrell picking up early fouls trying to cover him. Zubac fouled out with 4:07 remaining.
Rookie reserve Michael Porter Jr. finished with 18 points for the Nuggets, while Murray was held to 14 on 5 of 17 shooting.
The Milwaukee Bucks will play another day.
They’re waiting to see if reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will join them.
It’s still a dire situation for the team that had the league’s best regular-season record this season — they’re down, 3-1, in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Miami Heat, with another win-or-go-home test awaiting in Game 5 on Tuesday night. And they don’t know if Antetokounmpo, who sprained his right ankle in Game 3 and then again in Game 4, will be ready.
“There’s hope,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’re not ruling him out, so I guess until he’s ruled out you have hope. He’s going to do everything he can to make himself available.”
Also Tuesday: Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals, with that matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets tied at a game apiece.
Antetokounmpo was with the Bucks for their light practice Monday. He got treatment on the ankle, then left wearing a protective boot over his right foot — a standard practice with sprains to keep the injured area from bearing weight.
The Bucks won Game 4 without him for the most part, beating the Heat in overtime. The NBA acknowledged Monday that two fouls should have been called on the Bucks late in regulation, including one that would have put Jimmy Butler on the foul line with 24 seconds left and the Heat leading by a point. Donte DiVincenzo made a free throw on the next Milwaukee possession to force overtime.
“Our veteran players are experienced enough to know how difficult it is to win in the playoffs and how challenging it is just to win one game,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Each game has been like that. There have been these moments of truth and for three straight games we were able to win those moments of truth.”
The NBA fined Clippers guard Patrick Beverley $25,000 for verbally abusing a game official in Game 2 of his team’s Western Conference semifinal series against the Denver Nuggets.