While Kawhi Leonard has been dominant for the LA Clippers through the post-season, his running mate Paul George hasn't really let it fly....till now.
Over the first two games of the series against the Utah Jazz, George averaged just 23.5 points on 34.2 percent shooting as the Clippers fell into a 2-0 hole after losing the first two games in Salt Lake City, but in Game 3 in a pivotal matchup at home, PG had his swagger back.
TAKEAWAYS: Leonard and George combine for big Game 3 win
George was aggressive from the jump, scoring 20 of his 31 points (playoff-high) in the first half, attacking the rim with confidence as he punched one home over Rudy Gobert in the opening quarter.
PG to the rack with the right! pic.twitter.com/jrVewtF4Mk- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) June 13, 2021
In the fourth quarter, he went straight at Gobert again with this tough high finish at the rim.
What a finish by PG! pic.twitter.com/BJFik45J0X- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) June 13, 2021
He kept his game simple, penetrating the Jazz defence or pulling up for in rhythm 3-pointers, letting it fly without hesitation as he connected on a team-high 6-of-10 from the 3-point line.
"I think I just shot my shots," George said of his mindset in Game 3. "Looked to get to the shots I'm most comfortable with and stuck with it.
"It's just putting pressure, whether I'm shooting the ball, scoring or making plays, it's about putting the pressure on the defence and staying with an attack mentality all game."
With a hand in his face. 👌🏾 pic.twitter.com/QD1XKY3pv0- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) June 13, 2021
George, who finished with a tied team-high five assists was smooth initiating the offence for long stretches of the game, collapsing the Jazz defence and finding teammates with regularity.
His playmaking has been one of the more underrated parts of his game this season, averaging a career-high 5.2 dimes per game through the regular season, crediting Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups with his development as a playmaker this season.
"Chauncey's been great, he's been a big influence on my game and been a great vet and a champion, great person to have as a resource he's been talking me through a lot of me handling playing point and decision making, tempo and pace," George added.
"A lot of stuff from a point guard mindest and point guard point of view, because I have been doing a lot of ball-handling and creating...a lot of credit goes to him for my progression."
After the Jazz got out to an 8-0 run, the Clippers turned up the heat defensively, trapping Donovan Mitchell as he crossed half-court, sending double teams his way as they forced the ball out of his hands and kept the Jazz star scoreless for the opening 12 minutes.
MORE: Mitchell exits Game 3 early with injury
"We just made an emphasis that he's not going beat us tonight," he said of their approach to guarding Mitchell, who had scored a combined 82 points across the first two games of the series. We're going force everybody else to play, we're not going to let him walk into shots and get the looks he wants early."
Prior to the 1st quarter Saturday night, Donovan Mitchell was last held scoreless in a quarter of a playoff game April 24, 2019 vs Rockets (2nd quarter) pic.twitter.com/7CyX0nArmO- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2021
With George and Leonard combining for 65 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists in Game 3, the Jazz had few answers for the Clippers' offensive onslaught as their star duo took turns picking them apart, with Leonard taking over in the second half
"We both understand we got to be aggressive from this point on and do whatever it takes to win," George added. "So that's just the mentality we had to come out, get this team on the right start offensively and be aggressive, that's just what it's going to come down to for us."
The Clippers will look to build on their momentum and level the series in Game 4 at home, scheduled for Monday, June 14 at 10:00 p.m. ET.
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