The Los Angeles Clippers are one win away and the Denver Nuggets staved off elimination in first round NBA playoff games Tuesday in Orlando.
Paul George emerged from a slump and Kawhi Leonard provided the spark as the Clippers routed the Dallas Mavericks 154-111 to go ahead 3-2 in their Western Conference matchup.
The Mavericks were up 16-9 four minutes into the first quarter when Leonard scored 11 points in a 19-0 run to put the Clippers ahead by 12 28-16 with 4:46 left.
Dallas never got back to within single digits from then on.
George scored 35 points, bouncing back from three sub-par games, and Leonard backed him up with 32 points and seven rebounds for the Clippers who look to advance with a win Thursday.
Montrezl Harrell added 19 points and 11 rebounds Los Angeles who shot 63.1 percent from the floor and 22-for-35 (62.9 percent) from downtown, setting franchise playoff records for most points, three-pointers and shooting percentage.
Luka Doncic had with 22 points and eight rebounds for the Mavericks.
He was placed in danger in the game when Clippers’ Marcus Morris appeared to purposely step on Doncic’s injured ankle. Doncic injured his ankle in Game 3.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 19 points, Trey Burke had 15, and Maxi Kleber finished with 12 for the Mavericks who were without Kristaps Porzingis, out for the second straight game due to a sore right knee.
George said his struggles are over following the game.
He had to cope with the NBA’s quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida where the players have to adhere to strict health and safety measures and no spectators are allowed into the arena.
George said he was in a ”dark place” and he has finally got rid of the demons and is ready to help the Clippers in the playoffs.
”The bubble got the best of me. I was in a dark place,” said George. ”I wasn’t here, I checked out.
”I was just in a bad place. I found my way. I am back and I look forward to the rest of this run. A shout out to people that stood behind me and were in my corner.”
George, who had spoken to a team therapist, said he is now using mental tricks to raise his level of play.
”It was hard to get into playoff mode with no intensity, no fans, and no atmosphere,” he said.
”We created the energy. I came in with the attitude that this is Staples arena and the place is packed. I had to create my own energy.”
The Denver Nuggets avoided elimination with a 117-107 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of their Western Conference playoff series.
Jamal Murray scored 42 points and Nikola Jokic added 31 for Denver who now trail three games to two.
Donovan Mitchell finished with 30 points for Utah. Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson had 17 points each, Rudy Gobert had 11 points and 12 rebounds, Joe Ingles chipped in 13, and Royce O’Neale added 10.
Lillard (sprained knee) ruled out of Game 5 vs. Lakers
There will be no “Dame Time” as Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard has been ruled out for Game 5 of their Western Conference playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lillard’s absence because of a sprained knee he sustained in Game 4 is a huge blow to Portland, down 3-1, and looking to avoid elimination.
The Trail Blazers meet the Lakers Wednesday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tuesday.
Antetokounmpo received 75 first-place votes and 432 points in balloting from a group of 100 sports journalists to beat runner-up Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers who had only 200 points.
”His commitment to defending and his commitment to winning is beyond incredible,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
”He impacts the game with his blocked shots, his rebounding, his ability to guard all five positions … his talent is beyond special.” (Compiled by Tristan Lozano)