NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Clippers have a lot of fight left, says Kawhi Leonard

By Sports Desk June 11, 2021

Kawhi Leonard insisted the Los Angeles Clippers "have a lot of fight left" after they fell into a 0-2 hole in the Western Conference semi-finals series with the Utah Jazz.

The top-seeded Jazz took a two-game lead on Thursday with a 117-111 victory, Donovan Mitchell racking up 37 points to inspire Utah to triumph.

Leonard was held to 21 points in 39 minutes but is confident the Clippers can overturn the deficit, having come back from 2-0 and 3-2 down in their first-round series with the Dallas Mavericks.

"We all got to put our will out on the floor," the two-time NBA Finals MVP said.

"You know, see what we did in the first two games and try to limit our mistakes and just keep going on from there pretty much.

"We'll see [on Friday] what we got to do, and we've got a lot of fight left. So you know, we're up for the challenge."

Reggie Jackson top-scored for the Clippers with 29 points while Paul George produced a double-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

There was a significant disparity between the two teams in three-point shooting, with the Clippers going 11 for 30 from beyond the arc while the Jazz hit on 20 of their 39 attempts from deep.

"We've got to give them credit," said George. "This is a tough opponent. They weren't number one in the West for no reason.

"But, you know, we are approaching this the same way Dallas was, we still feel we have a lot of possessions that we can clean up, a lot of possessions that are hurting us that's our fault.

"As good as they are playing, as tough as this matchup is, we still feel like there's moments throughout this game, this series, that, you know, we are making plays that are self-inflicted.

"It's a lot of uphill. But we're optimistic that we can get this under control and go back home, one game at a time, and try to tie this series up."

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    Devin Booker refused to blame his broken nose for an ugly showing in the Phoenix Suns' Game 3 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The second-seeded Suns had stormed into a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals but saw that advantage cut in half with a 106-92 loss in LA on Thursday.

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    That disjointed display came in the wake of Booker having been subjected to some painful treatment to put his nose back in place, but he did not want to use that as an excuse.

    "The nose feels fine," Booker, who wore a face mask during the game, said in quotes reported by ESPN. "We just lost the game."

    Booker had to undergo a quick fix before the Suns flew in to LA from Phoenix and it was not a pleasurable experience for the shooting guard.

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    "It's a procedure that they usually say they put you under [anaesthesia] for, but we had a flight out a couple hours later, so they just numbed it up all over the place, it felt like.

    "Like eight shots to numb it up and then they go in there and put it back, they break it again. They break it back in place."

    Despite the defeat, Booker is confident the Suns will put things right in the next game.

    "The spirit is high," Booker said. "We move on to the next one. That's what type of team we are. We've been like that the whole season, so we'll stick with that.

    "We'll come in tomorrow, go over film, regroup and get ready for Game 4."

    Suns veteran Chris Paul returned from the league's health and safety protocol to post 15 points and 12 assists.

    Paul became the 13th player in NBA history with 1,000 playoff assists.

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    Making their first foray into the Conference Finals, the Clippers slumped to a 2-0 deficit against the second-seeded Suns heading into Thursday's clash in Los Angeles.

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    "Ty Lue just does a great job making adjustments, counters. We come out and we play hard.

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    Entering the contest at Staples Center following back-to-back games on the road, George had scored at least 20 points in all 15 games this postseason.

    The latest performance saw George eclipse LeBron James' run of 15 consecutive games (in 2016) with 20-plus points in the playoffs – Kevin Durant is the only other active player to achieve the feat in the postseason (20 straight in 2012 and 21 in a row in 2018).

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    George and Zubac became the first set of team-mates to each tally 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds in a playoff showdown since James (28 points and 15 rebounds) and Kevin Love (15 points and 21 rebounds) in 2017.

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    Featuring in the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history, the Clippers found themselves in a 2-0 hole against the second-seeded Suns heading into Thursday's clash in Los Angeles.

    Even in the ongoing absence of superstar Kawhi Leonard (knee), George picked up the slack with a 27-point and 15-rebound double-double – which included a stunning half-court buzzer-beater in the third period – to lift the Clippers and help reduce the series deficit to 2-1.

    Entering the contest at Staples Center following back-to-back games on the road, George had scored at least 20 points in all 15 games this postseason.

    The latest performance saw George eclipse LeBron James' run of 15 consecutive games (in 2016) with 20-plus points in the playoffs – Kevin Durant is the only other active player to achieve the feat in the postseason (20 straight in 2012 and 21 in a row in 2018).

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    Reggie Jackson added 23 points for the Clippers, while Ivica Zubac (15 points and 16 rebounds) finished with a double-double of his own.

    George and Zubac became the first set of team-mates to each tally 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds in a playoff showdown since James (28 points and 15 rebounds) and Kevin Love (15 points and 21 rebounds) in 2017.

    Suns veteran Chris Paul returned from the league's health and safety protocol and posted 15 points and 12 assists.

    Paul became the 13th player in NBA history with 1,000 playoff assists in the losing effort.

    It was a tough outing for star team-mate Devin Booker, who was just five-for-21 shooting as he finished with 15 points in a team-high 40 minutes.

     

    Hawks at Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks will look to bounce back against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday. Trae Young and the Hawks claimed the opener in Milwaukee.

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