ORLANDO (REUTERS) – Paul George scored 32 points and Kawhi Leonard added 23 as the Los Angeles Clippers outlasted the Denver Nuggets 113-107 on Monday (Sept 7) to grab a 2-1 lead in their National Basketball Association Western Conference semi-final series.
The Clippers trailed by as many as 12 in the first half but were able to move two victories away from a berth in the Western Conference Finals. Leonard grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds and added a team-best six assists.
Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists while Michael Porter Jr added 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Nuggets. Jokic became the first player in Nuggets history with 14 career play-off games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who scored 50 points twice in the first round against the Jazz, was held to 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting. However, he logged a game-high nine assists.
The Clippers trailed 97-90 before going on an 8-0 run over a 1min 28sec stretch midway through the final quarter to grab a 98-97 advantage. Los Angeles extended the run to 14-4, taking a 104-101 lead with 4:27 remaining on a step-back jumper by Leonard.
When Lou Williams made a driving lay-up with 2:04 remaining, the Clippers held a 109-103 advantage, their largest of the game to that point.
George, whose shooting troubles in the play-offs have been well noted, went 12 of 18 from the field – including 5-of-7 from three-point range. It was his second-highest scoring game of the play-offs after a 35-point outing in a Game 5 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
Marcus Morris scored 12 points, Montrezl Harrell had 11 and Williams added 10 for the Clippers. Paul Millsap and Jerami Grant each had 11 points for the Nuggets while Gary Harris had 10.
The Clippers got off to a better start in Game 3, taking a 33-32 lead after one quarter a game after falling behind 44-25 after the first quarter of Game 2. George scored 10 points in the opening quarter on Monday on 4-of-7 shooting.
The Nuggets went on a 19-7 run to take a 55-43 lead in the second quarter, but the Clippers went into half-time on a 12-2 run to trail 59-57 at the break.
George led all scorers at halftime with 17 points with Leonard contributing 14. Jokic also had 14 at the break for Denver.