Clippers pull away from Suns to win Game 3 of Western Conference finals despite Chris Paul’s return

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Clippers did it again.

They finished with a 106-92 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Thursday before a sellout crowd at Staples Center, marking the third consecutive Game 3 they won after facing an 0-2 deficit.

While Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard missed a fifth consecutive game because of a right knee sprain, Los Angeles received various contributions. Paul George finished with 27 points while shooting 9-of-26 from the field and 3-of-11 from 3-point range along with 15 rebounds and eight assists. Reggie Jackson (23 points), Ivica Zubac (15) and Terance Mann (12) also finished with double figures.

Nothing personified the Clippers’ bounce-back performance more than George’s 30-footer just before the third quarter ended. That gave the Clippers an 80-69 lead after outscoring the Suns 34-21 in the third quarter.

PG continues his stellar #NBAPlayoffs.

🔥 27 PTS
🔥 15 REB
🔥 8 AST

The @LAClippers take Game 3.. they can tie the series with a W Saturday at 9pm/et on ESPN! #ThatsGamepic.twitter.com/aU6Ijot13V

The Suns trimmed the Clippers’ lead to 89-83 with 7:13 left. But the Clippers closed the game out with a 17-9 run.

The Suns also struggled generating much offense. In his first game since after remaining sidelined for 11 days because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Chris Paul had 15 points while shooting 5-of-19 from the field and 2-of-7 from 3-point range along with 12 assists. While wearing a mask stemming from a crooked nose suffered in Game 2, Devin Booker had 15 points while shooting only 5-of-21 from the field and 1-of-7 from 3-point range. Deandre Ayton added 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting, but that was not enough to offset the team’s backcourt shooting struggles.

The Clippers and Suns play Game 4 on Saturday in Los Angeles and Game 5 on Monday in Phoenix.

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