Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Paul George drops playoff career-high 41, helps resilient Clippers stay alive

There will be a Game 6 as once again in the 2021 postseason, the Clippers responded with a crucial victory with their backs against the wall.

Behind a career-night from Paul George, the LA franchise win a huge Game 5 on the road 116-102, to force a Game 6 back at the STAPLES Center.

Along with his playoff career-high of 41 points, George also recorded 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals on an incredible 15-of-20 shooting from the field to become the first player in franchise history to record at least 40 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists in a playoff game.

He received help from his teammates in the form of Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson, who combined for 45 while DeMarcus Cousins provided a 15-point burst off the bench. For the Suns, Devin Booker was the top scorer with 31 but it wasn't enough.

That said, here's a quick look at the game's major takeaways:

Morris Sr., supporting cast carry Clippers in first half

The Clippers quickly put their fourth-quarter offensive struggles from Game 4 behind them with a red-hot first quarter.

Outscoring the Suns by 10, they scored 36 points in the first quarter led by a combined 25 from Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr.

At the half, along with a 10-point spurt from DeMarcus Cousins, they were responsible for 44 of the team's 59 points as they led by seven. Morris Sr., who finished with 20 in the first half, was due a hot shooting game after only scoring a combined 28 over the first four games of the series.

Paul George, the team's lone All-Star had a subdued 11 points and four assists in the oening 24 minutes.

Steady Suns don't let game get away until late

Phoenix were outplayed early in this game, going down 20-5 after the first five minutes but they responded with a 16-5 run of their own.

After a spurt by Cousins, they were down by 14 in the second quarter but once again, stayed in the contrest by keeping at it.

In the end, Booker's 19 points including the halftime buzzer-beater helped the Suns keep the deficit just down to seven (59-52).

Paul George big third quarter

Given the stakes, George had a relatively quiet first half. The third quarter, however, was a different story.

In the third period, he exploded for 20 of the team's 32 points which helped the Clippers extend their lead to 13 heading into the fourth quarter.

Early in the period, the Suns took the lead on the back of a 10-2 run but LA wrestled back the control with a 30-16 run for the rest of the period and George was responsible for 21 of those 30.

This was the third 20-point quarter of George's playoff career and it makes him only the second Clipper, after Terrence Mann, since 1997 to score at least 20 in a quarter.

No Zubac, no problem

Already without star Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers were also missing starting center Ivica Zubac due to a sprianed MCL.

He has been huge for them this season, only being a net negative three in their three losses prior to this one whereas, in their Game 3 win, his impact was undeniable.

However, this Clippers team doesn't cower to adversity. Instead, they stepped up and battled together, especially while playing with their small-ball line-up, to not only outrebound the Suns 45-43 without Zubac but also outscore them in the paint 58-32.

Cousins' 11-minute spark, where he also recorded two rebounds and three assists on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, was a huge part of the Clippers' fight without their Croatian big man.

Reggie Jackson's late spark

The Suns refused to go away in this one, bringing the deficit down to four (98-94) with 6:58 minutes to play.

That's when Jackson scored eight quick ones as part of a Clippers' 10-2 run. Courtesy that jolt, the visitors led 108-96 with 4:47 left.

There was plenty of time left but this late run by Jackson seemed to have taken out the remaining fight in the Suns.

What's next?

Backs against the walls and yet again, the Clippers have fought back. They force a Game 6 back in Los Angeles after a day off on Wednesday, Jun. 30 at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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