Paul George posted a playoff career-high 41 points as the Los Angeles Clippers avoided elimination with a 116-102 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
George flexed his muscles away from home on Monday and in the absence of star team-mate Kawhi Leonard, scoring 30 second-half points to keep the series alive against the second-seeded Suns.
The win means the Clippers, who have come from behind to triumph in their past two playoffs series, trail the Suns 3-2 in the matchup ahead of Game 6 back in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
George and the Clippers had led at half-time for the first time in the series, up 59-52, but the Suns earned a 62-61 lead before the visitors launched a 10-0 run and never looked back.
Clippers star George entered the must-win game as the fourth player in NBA history to score 20-plus points in each of his first 17 games of a single postseason, joining Michael Jordan (1991, 1992, 1997, 1998), Kobe Bryant (2008) and Kevin Durant (2012 and 2018).
George also had 13 rebounds and six assists, dominating for the fourth-seeded Clippers, who were without injured pair Leonard and Ivica Zubac.
The Clippers continued their resilient playoff campaign, having trailed 2-0 against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round before winning 4-3, while they won four games in a row against the top-seeded Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semi-finals, having fallen 2-0 behind.
Paul George pours in a new #NBAPlayoffs career-high 41 PTS in the @LAClippers Game 5 win, dropping 30 in the 2nd half! #ThatsGame— NBA (@NBA) June 29, 2021
Making it a 3-2 PHX series lead, LAC forces Game 6 on Wednesday at 9pm/et on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/WSI8qxvruX
The Suns refused to surrender, with Devin Booker scoring 31 points and Chris Paul contributing 22 of his own, but the Clippers always had an answer to silence the home crowd.
George, who shot 15-from-20 from the field for the game, had good support from Reggie Jackson (23 points, including four three-pointers), while Marcus Morris Sr. finished with 22 points after scoring 20 in the first half.
The Clippers dominated with 34-8 first-half points in the paint and 58-32 for the game.
Suns center Deandre Ayton could not capitalise on Zubac's absence, only managing 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Paul missed all six three-point attempts for Phoenix, while he had eight assists.
REGGIE RISES UP! pic.twitter.com/keCKkMhlLJ— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) June 29, 2021
Bucks at Hawks
The Milwaukee Bucks can claim a 3-1 lead over the Atlanta Hawks when they visit State Farm Arena for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday.