George shines as Kawhi-less Clippers take 3-2 series lead over Jazz
Despite two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard being sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury, the Los Angeles Clippers stole a 119-111 road win over the Utah Jazz to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference semifinals series.
Paul George paved the way to victory with a 37-point, 16-rebound double-double with five assists, two blocks, and a steal, finishing plus-9 in 40 minutes of action. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue called it a "big statement," according to USA Today's Mark Medina, before continuing on to praise his players' resilience and accountability to each other.
"I'm very proud of the guys. ... We've been talking about it all year. We're not going to point the finger. We're not going to blame anyone," Lue said, according to Clippers reporter Justin Russo.
"... When things get tough, we come together. That's the kind of culture I wanted to establish here."
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 32 points and tied the NBA playoff record with six made threes in a scorching hot first quarter.
Donovan Mitchell had 21 points, five rebounds, and five assists while his usual starting backcourt mate Mike Conley continued to nurse his strained hamstring from the bench. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert tallied a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double but failed to record a block for the first time this postseason.
"We gotta do anything we can to win the game," Gobert said of Friday's pivotal Game 6, according to the Salt Lake Tribune's Eric Walden. "We know we're gonna need a better collective effort than we had tonight. Hopefully, we have more urgency.
"If we lose, we're going home. You can't get more urgency than that."