With heart, hustle and plenty of small ball, the culture of the LA Clippers was on full display in their 116-102 Game 5 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Paul George was phenomenal in the valley Monday night, clocking in 41 points (15-20 FG, 3-6 3PT, 8-8 FT), 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals in a 41-minute monster performance. From the jump, Marcus Morris Sr. set the tone for the Clippers, pouring in 20 of his 22 points in the first half to go with with three boards, two assists and a steal. With 23 points (8-14 FG, 4-7 3PT), five rebounds, three assists and a block, Reggie Jackson turned in yet another unreal playoff effort. Read on for our full Clippers vs. Suns Game 5 recap.
Led by the offensive resurgence of Marcus Morris Sr., the Clippers came out incredibly sharp on both ends to take an 18-5 lead at the game’s first timeout. After failing to hit double-figures through the series’ first four games, Morris Sr. eclipsed that mark with plenty of spot ups and posts ups in just over halfway to go in the period. Soon enough however, the Clippers’ eventual 20-7 opening run was answered right back as the Suns got hot from deep to spark a 16-5 run to cut LAC’s lead to four. Out of Tyronn Lue’s timeout, Morris Sr. had a beautiful drive and drop off pass to DeMarcus Cousins for a layup. Later, Jackson beat the buzzer with a layup over Cam Johnson as the Clippers took a 36-26 lead after one.
Matching the Suns point for point before Devin Booker knocked down a three at the buzzer, the Clippers continued to show impressive fight in the second quarter. Being connected on the glass with gang rebounds and making the right pass often out of the short roll, the Clippers’ small ball lineup was in full effect once again. The biggest sign of the sans-center lineup working its magic—Deandre Ayton having just four boards and six points on five shots in the game’s opening 19 minutes. What kept the Clippers from pulling away, however, was once again their inability to make the Suns pay for leaving them free on open threes. Although LAC shot 9-for-13 from two in the period, they went just 1 of 9 from beyond the arc. Overall, the story of the first half was Morris Sr. and Reggie Jackson’s brilliance, and Booker finally finding his groove in the mask with Patrick Beverley’s minutes being limited. Heading back to the locker room, the Clippers held a halftime lead for the first time in the series, 59-52.
Having absolutely no regard for whatever the Suns threw at him—including elbows to the face—Paul George took over the game to the tune of 20 points in the third quarter. The Suns came out of the half with a furious 10-2 run to take their first lead of the game. George answered with an and-1 layup. Drawing a Flagrant 1, 3-point shooting foul on Pat Bev fighting over a screen, Chris Paul got a very favorable whistle which resulted in a 5-point Phoenix play. The Clippers once again answered with an 11-3 run. Continuing to compete either with a small-ball zone or Boogie holding his own, the Clippers’ ability to adjust showed its worth as LA took a 91-78 lead into the fourth.
In the final frame, George (10) and Jackson (8) combined to outscore Ayton (0), Paul (6) and Booker (6) 18 to 12. With PG and Pat Bev off of the floor to start the quarter, Booker brought the Suns within seven with a layup and a pair of long twos. After a no-call George misdribble led to a Cam Johnson and-1 layup, the Clipper lead had evaporated down to four with 6:58 remaining as Lue took a timeout. Here’s what transpired next. A Jackson left-wing 3. A PG layup. A Torrey Craig layup. A PG to Jackson left-wing 3. A PG steal on an Ayton post-entry pass to a Jackson runout dunk. A Crowder flagrant closeout on PG, who then converts the pair at the line. A PG isolation mid-range jumper over Mikal Bridges to take the life of out of the arena. The Clippers are going back home for Game 6.
Clippers vs. Suns Game Notes
- Attack, Attack, Attack: Down their franchise star and both their starting and backup centers, there was simply no way the Clippers could win this game if they weren’t the team playing the hardest. Well, not only did they nearly draw the rebounding battle 40-41, but the Clippers also dominated in fast break points 19-8 and in points in the paint 58-32.
- We Missed You, Mook: Heading into tonight’s road game down 3-1 with Ivica Zubac as a gameday scratch, the Clippers were dead in the water. That was until Marcus Morris Sr. regained his shooting stroke. Taking a rotating cast of Phoenix’s smalls down into the post and nailing jumper after jumper, Morris Sr. stepped it up offensively when the team needed it most.
- Good Job, Boogie: Ty Lue said pregame that he was going to add a “few more” guys to the rotation before tightening it down in the second half. Well, not only did Lue still go just 8-deep with his rotation in the minutes that mattered, but he also went to DeMarcus Cousins throughout the game. In a critical 11:19 of time—mostly with PG and Pat Bev off the floor—Boogie came through in his stretches for LAC with 15 points (7-12 FG), three assists and a steal.
- Lue’s Gamble Pays Off: Pregame, Lue also mentioned that he wanted to limit certain players’ minutes in the first half so that they could be more ready in the second. Patrick Beverley played just 22:51 in the first three quarters, and despite having just two fouls, played just 13:33 in the first half. In that time, plus the first three minutes and change of the fourth quarter, Booker scored his team-high 31 points. After Beverley checked back in with 9:18 left in the fourth, however, Booker went scoreless the rest of the way.
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