Behind a historic performance from Paul George, the LA Clippers staved off elimination in Game 5 and forced a Game 6 back in Los Angeles.
The 6-foot-8 wing became the first player in franchise history to record at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and five assists with his playoff career-high 41 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals on a super-efficient 15-of-20 shooting from the field.
He etched his name in the record books, becoming the first player ever to score 40+ while shooting at least 75 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc and a perfect 100 percent from the free-throw line.
Paul George has put up 20+ PTS in all 18 games he's played in this postseason.- NBA History (@NBAHistory) June 29, 2021
The only other players in NBA history to score at least 20 in their first 18 games of a single NBA Playoffs are Michael Jordan (1992, 1997, 1998), Kobe Bryant (2008) and Kevin Durant (2012, 2018). pic.twitter.com/bRPRxtlEFK
"PG's been great for us all year," Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said postgame. "I just don't understand why [it's] magnified so much when he doesn't play well, when he has a bad game because a lot of people play bad."
After riding Marcus Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson in the first half, with the duo combining for 34 of the team's 59 points, George took over in the second half. He scored 30 of his 41 points after halftime, including a 20-point third quarter, carrying the team and helping them withstand the Suns' rallies.
TAKEAWAYS: PG drops playoff career-high 41 as Clips force Game 6
Like Lue, DeMarcus Cousins, who played a crucial role in this game by scoring a playoff career-high of 15 points in just an 11-minute burst in the absence of Ivica Zubac, also voiced his opinion on the unfair criticism that George has received in the past.
"I don't know where this trolling bulls- has come from," Cousins said postgame. "The internet controls the narratives about these players, it's becoming foolish. This is one of the most special players to lace shoes. Give this dude his flowers."
George, meanwhile, was modest and reflective in his postgame on-court interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols.
"I haven't shot the ball well this whole series. At some point, I had to have a breakthrough," he said. "My teammates been carrying me, honestly, they've been carrying me. Tonight, I had to come through."
Context for Clippers win vs Suns in Game 5:- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 29, 2021
Clippers now have 7 wins when trailing in a playoff series, the most in a single postseason in NBA history
Paul George is the 2nd player with 40 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 75% shooting in a playoff game, joining Patrick Ewing. pic.twitter.com/Rb5k00pgpB
The seven-time All-Star doesn't need a great game to respond to the unfair criticism he receives on a consistent basis. He shared postgame that it doesn't bother him, but he does believe that he gets unfairly picked on more than the rest of the league.
"It's the honest truth, it's a fact," George said. "I can't worry about that. It comes with the job, I guess."
These harsh evaluations of his performances on the biggest stage have been going on for a couple of years now but George is 'beyond that'.
"I am who I am. I wish I could shoot 80 percent on a nightly basis... They can judge me on what they want to. That part doesn't matter to me. I'm gonna go out there and hoop and give it everything I got."
Not just coming into Game 5, but the remaining ones as well, George believes the 'one-game mentality' is the way to go for the Clippers.
"The fact of the matter is, they got to beat us. It's one game for us, and it's one game for them."
Following his #NBAPlayoffs career-high 41-point performance, Paul George discusses the @LAClippers mentality that helped them win Game 5 and keep their season alive. #ThatsGame- NBA (@NBA) June 29, 2021
3-2 PHX lead in the #NBAWCF presented by AT&T, LAC forces Game 6 on Wednesday at 9pm/et on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/Qv88IBElCo
After gutting it out in the Game 5 win, the Clippers have put themselves in a spot to tie the series up in Game 6, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Jun. 30 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
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