The first few weeks of the season haven’t gone as planned for the Los Angeles Clippers, but Monday night’s miraculous 119-117 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers could be a turning point. Despite trailing by 10 with 2:39 remaining, the Clippers battled back to their best finish of the season and snap the Cavs’ eight-game winning streak.
After a highly competitive opening three quarters, the Cavaliers began to create some separation early in the fourth quarter. However, they were never able to put the game out of their reach, which came back to bite them when their offense froze in the closing minutes. After Kevin Love hit a free throw to put the Cavs up 112-100 with 4:37 remaining, they didn’t score for more than four minutes.
During that time, the Clippers went on a 15-0 run to take a 115-112 lead on a hard hit from Paul George. Coming off a timeout, George caught the pass inside the top of the key and went straight to the basket. His quick decision seemed to catch Isaac Okoro a bit off guard, giving him just enough angle to drop down, make contact and finish off the glass.
The game became a free throw contest from there, and the Clippers held on despite some last-second drama when Donovan Mitchell was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 4.5 seconds remaining, and the Cavs They lost by four. He made the first two, then missed the third on purpose to try and grab the offensive rebound, but was unsuccessful.
George, who finished with 26 points, five rebounds and three assists on 10-of-20 shooting from the field, called this the Clippers’ “best win” of the season. They have now won four of their last five games after a slow start and are back above .500 going 6-5 before their matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
“I feel great,” George said. “I’ll continue to lead and enjoy the process… My body feels really good. I’ve been doing a lot of stretching work. Just soft tissue work. It’s allowed me to feel free on the court.” “
George went through a rough patch with the rest of the team and even missed a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder due to illness other than COVID-19. However, over the last week or so, he turned it around. He was named Western Conference Player of the Week the Monday before this game for averaging 33 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists last week.
The win over the Cavs was his fifth straight game in which he had scored at least 25 points on 50 percent shooting from the field. With Kawhi Leonard still sidelined indefinitely due to lingering knee issues, the Clippers will need George to continue to lead the way.