Paul George Was Masterful As The Clippers Won Game 5 In Utah Without Kawhi Leonard

The Clippers entered Game 5 in Utah missing Kawhi Leonard after he suffered a knee sprain late in Game 4, and as such L.A. came in as underdogs in a pivotal moment in the series. However, despite being without their superstar forward, the Clippers were able to hang around with the Jazz in the first half, trailing by only five despite Utah going supernova from three at 17-of-30 from deep in the first two quarters.

Leading the way for the Jazz early was Bojan Bogdanovic, as he hit his first six threes in the first quarter, catching fire and not caring what the Clippers defense did on him.

Everyone got in on the act for Utah in the first half, as they were almost across the board testing out the hot-hand theory early on.

On the other side, though, it was Paul George who was steady in taking on the leading role for the Clippers, scoring 22 in the first half to keep L.A. in the game, stepping up in a major way with Leonard out, with Marcus Morris hitting some big threes to keep pace with Utah.

The Jazz would cut the lead to as few as three in the fourth quarter, but that was when it became the Reggie Jackson show for L.A., first hitting a ridiculous 9-1-1 jumper as the shot clock was winding down followed by a big three to push the lead back to seven.

Nic Batum would then hit a three to push the lead back to double digits at 100-90, but there was still plenty of time for the Jazz to mount a possible comeback. The Jazz scored seven quick points to answer back and cut the lead back down to 100-97, starting with great defensive efforts and finally getting themselves going downhill to the basket, first with a nice find from Joe Ingles to Rudy Gobert and then a ridiculous and-1 bucket from Mitchell.

But as was the case early in the quarter, Reggie Jackson, aka Mr. June, went on a personal 5-0 run — including a filthy take on Rudy Gobert in isolation — to immediately push the lead back to eight, as he continues to play some of the best basketball of his career at the best possible time for the Clippers.

The Jazz kept hanging around, as Bojan Bogdanovic, who had gone cold in the second half, cashed in on a big three to make it a four-point game, but that was when Terance Mann put the DPOY on a poster with an and-1 dunk to push the lead back to seven.

In one game, Paul George seemingly was determined to rewrite the narrative about himself in the playoffs, playing a magnificent game from start to finish, getting a clutch and-1 as he caught Royce O’Neale (who had a rough night overall) with his hand in the cookie jar.

The Jazz would get it back to a five-point game but never closer, with O’Neale and Mitchell both missing threes late — Mitchell was just 6-of-19 from the field and 4-of-14 from three on the night as he had his first bad shooting game of the series at a bad time with 21 points, five assists, and five rebounds. Bogdanovic led the way with 32, but he just wasn’t able to keep up his first half effort, and with Mitchell and Clarkson cold, the lack of a steadying presence offensively with Mike Conley out was noticeable for Utah. As a team, Utah was just 3-of-24 from three-point range in the second half, going ice cold after their ridiculous start and they couldn’t create enough downhill to get back in front once L.A. took the lead.

On the other side, it was a gutty and impressive win for the Clippers, with George putting up an outstanding performance with 37 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and one steal on 12-of-22 shooting (and 10-of-11 from the line). Jackson chipped in 22 points and Marcus Morris once again provided a lift offensively with 25 points on 10-of-16 from the field, as they were able to find just enough without Leonard to get a much needed 119-111 road victory.

Now the series shifts back to Los Angeles where the Clippers will look to put a bow on the series. The Jazz had a horrific time in Staples Center in Game 3 and 4, and will need to figure out how to get their shooters going on the road if they’re going to have a shot at sending it to a Game 7. While they won Game 5, the status of Kawhi Leonard looms large, as one would think he wouldn’t play in Game 6 with his knee sprain and without him, the Clippers will need to find guys to step up again around George if they’re going to punch their ticket to the conference finals and a date with the Suns.