PHOENIX -- Paul George, who scored a playoff-record 41 points against seven Phoenix Suns defenders to help LA Clippers avoid elimination, took a well-deserved place with 1:44 remaining in Monday's Game 5. He was greeted one by one by a line of Clippers coaches.
Tyronn Lue, the All-Star, was the last one to shake hands with him before uttering some words that the Clippers head coach said he couldn't share.
George said that Lue had told him "a lot of MFs". "And bleep it and bleep it."
George's best playoff performance came after he missed two crucial free throws late in LA's Game 2 defeat. George scored 41 points on 15 of his 20 attempts and had 13 rebounds, six assists, and three steals. The Clippers returned to Los Angeles with a 116-102 victory Monday night.
The Clippers are now trailing 3-2 in the Western Conference finals. They were the only team to overcome a deficit of 2-0 twice in the postseason. With a win Wednesday at Staples Center, they can force Game 7.
George would have likely made it impossible for them to continue playing. Lue stated that he does not understand the reason his star guard's struggles with George, such as after Game 2, when George missed two free shots with the Clippers to make it up one point before the Suns won on a last second Deandre Ayton alley oop.
George was asked Monday night if he felt more picked on than other NBA stars during bad times.
George replied, "Yes," It's the truth. It is a fact. It's not something I have to worry about. It's part of the job, I suppose. I still try to dominate. I try to dominate. ... But I am beyond that, you see what I mean. I am who and what I am. I would love to shoot 75% or 80% on a daily basis, but that's impossible.
He said, "What I can do is everything else." They can judge me on my actions. I don't care about that part. I will go out and hoove and give it all I have."
The Clippers were already without Kawhi Leonard, who had sustained a right knee injury, but they learned that Ivica Zubac, the Clippers' starting center, would also be out on Monday. Lue stated that the Clippers felt confident during their morning shootaround. However, players were shocked to hear about Zubac. Zubac had been playing at his best basketball and had recorded a double-double in three consecutive games before injuring himself in the second half.
Marcus Morris Sr. started at center and had his best game. He hit his first six shots as well as scoring 13 of his 22 points during the first quarter. In the first minutes, the Clippers led 20-5. Lue said that George was able to feel his way into this game.
Chris Paul's 16-footer gave the Suns a lead of 62 to 61 with 8:27 remaining. George scored 18 of the 20 points in the third quarter. To send the Clippers to the fourth round, he made 7 of 8 shots. He also buried three 3s during the quarter.
DeMarcus Cousins scored 15 points in just 11 minutes from the bench. "I don’t know where this trolling Bulls--- has been coming from," he said. It's getting foolish, man. "It's becoming foolish, man," I said earlier this year. George is one of the greatest players to have ever put his shoes on.
"Give this man his flowers, man. I don't get the slander. It's getting ridiculous. Respect these greats, man. These greats deserve respect."
The Suns scored another run in the fourth quarter to reduce the deficit to 98-94% with 6:58 left. Reggie Jackson (23 point) made timely and crucial shots for the Clippers, as he did throughout the postseason. Jackson made two 3-pointers, and also dunk from a George steal. The Clippers went on a 14-2 run to win Game 5, scoring six more points for George.
The Clippers were abuzz about George's performance after he made 10-of-14 on contested shots. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he did a lot of damage with pull-ups. He went 7-for-10. He also scored on seven primary Suns defenders.
George stated, "If they were to finish the series off they were going have to work for them." This was the mindset we had when we entered this. We were not going to give up. We were not going to give up. They beat us, that's the truth of it."