By. Homer D. Sayson
CHICAGO - An 0-3 series hole in a best-of-7 series is historically a death sentence in the NBA. And the Los Angeles Clippers made sure to avoid the peril.
Much maligned for his sub-par performances in the Games 1 and 2 of the series when he missed 23 of 35 shots to produce only 47 points, Paul George rebounded with a vengeance today and led the Clippers to beat the Jazz, 132-106, in Game 3.
Buoyed by some 8,185 fans in attendance at Staples Center, George sizzled with 31 points on 12 of 24 shooting from the field that included six made 3s out of 10 attempts. He also racked three rebounds and five assists in 38 minutes of action.
The key to George's transformation was simple. He just stayed true to himself.
"I think I just shot my shots, got the shots I'm most comfortable with and stuck with it," PG told reporters after L.A. sliced their series deficit to 1-2 and while gaining some much-needed momentum heading into the next frame.
As George worked hard to silence his doubters, Kawhi Leonard quietly kept doing Kawhi Leonard things.
The two-time NBA champ, who won rings with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 and with the Toronto Raptors in 2019, finished with 34 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
Reggie Jackson nailed five triples to register 17 points while Nicolas Batum also had 17 for Los Angeles, which controlled the boards, 41-31, and won the assists battle, 21-15.
After trailing 8-0 to start Game 3, the Clips fired back with a 37-point second quarter to seize control. Shooting 56 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc, they eventually led by as many as 28 points.
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 30 points in yet another spectacular outing, but the Jazz couldn't find any traction on offense,hitting only 36 of 84 shots (42.9 percent).
"We kind of let them get comfortable. George hit some shots, but we can make it tougher on him and Kawhi," Mitchell said.
Game 4 is set on Tuesday back at the Staples Center.