LOS ANGELES – After scoring while drawing a foul to give the LA Clippers an unlikely lead with 37 seconds left against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Paul George let out a shout to the home crowd.
George’s three-point play capped an amazing 17-1 Clippers run that erased a 13-point deficit in the final five minutes to upset the Cavaliers 119-117 at Crypto.com Arena on Monday night.
The Clippers (6-5) snapped Cleveland’s eight-game win streak and handed the Cavs (8-2) just their second loss.
“This is our best win, our biggest win,” said George, who had 26 points and five rebounds. “Overall, this was probably one of our best nights offensively, as well as our defense. They got elite scoring, elite shooting, and I think we did a great job of matching on both ends.”
George’s yell in the right corner of the baseline came near the same spot where he hit a game-winning shot to help the Clippers avoid an embarrassing loss to the rebuilding Houston Rockets a week ago. At the time, the Clippers were incredibly relieved to have beaten the Rockets, erasing a five-point deficit in the final 1:27 to stop what was then a four-game losing streak.
However, Monday night’s fourth-quarter comeback was very different. Instead of avoiding a bad loss to the Rockets, the Clippers went out of their way to beat the hottest team in the league.
They had several heartwarming wins coming from behind last season. But the Clippers trailed by 10 points in the final three minutes against Cleveland and still won. They previously went 0-629 when trailing by 10 points or more in the final three minutes of regulation over the past 25 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“I was surprised today,” center Ivica Zubac said of the Clippers’ latest comeback, because of the quality of the opponent he faced and how Cleveland was playing. “But I guess that’s what we do.
“This is going to be important for our confidence.”
The Clippers have won four of their last five without the injured Kawhi Leonard (right knee), and avoided the Cavs with John Wall out for the second straight game.
Donovan Mitchell had 30 points for Cleveland and Evan Mobley added 26 points and eight rebounds. But the Clippers played perhaps their best defense of the season, holding the Cavs to 0-for-7 shooting over a span of five minutes.
The Clippers play the rival Lakers on Wednesday for the second time this season. While the Clippers aren’t expected to have Leonard for the ninth straight game, they’re hoping this Cleveland win can propel them to play the way many expected them to play when they started the season with championship expectations.
Coach Ty Lue said the Clippers are getting better and he’s starting to see them look like who they were when they battled to the Western Conference finals in 2021.
“I think so,” Lue said. “But it will be different again when Kawhi comes back. So you have to try to figure it out again.”
“But I like where we are. We are competing every night.”