Clippers defeat the Jazz in Game 3 despite losing Blake Griffin to toe injury
They were forced into survival mode of sorts because yet another injury took down Blake Griffin, leaving the Clippers short-handed at the most inopportune time in the Western Conference playoffs after the power forward left the game because of a bruised right big toe late in the first half.
So it was on the shoulders of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jamal Crawford to carry the Clippers in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz on Friday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
With Paul leading the way and showing his teammates how to hang tough in trying circumstances, the Clippers hammered away for a 111-106 victory over the Jazz.
Paul scored nine consecutive points during one stretch late in the fourth quarter, finishing with 34 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
He made 12 of 22 shots from the field, including two of five from three-point range, to help the Clippers take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series that resumes with Game 4 here Sunday night.
Perhaps more importantly, the Clippers have taken the home-court advantage back after a stunning loss in Game 1 at Staples Center.
Jordan had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Mbah a Moute had a playoff career-high 15 points and Crawford finished with nine points.
After George Hill (26 points) made a three-pointer with 5.3 seconds left, Paul made two free throws with 5.3 seconds left for a 108-105 Clippers lead that finally withstood Utah’s last-gasp push.
Paul’s three-pointer gave the Clippers a 97-96 lead with 4 minutes 1 second left.
Then his driving layup gave the Clippers a 99-96 lead and forced the Jazz to call a timeout with 3:23 left in now very tense game.
After a Gordon Hayward, who had playoff career-high 40 points, missed a shot, Paul scored again for a 101-96 Clippers lead. Paul struck again, on a floating banks shot, for a 103-96 Clippers lead.
Jordan made one of two free throws to keep the Clippers ahead, 104-100, with 57.1 seconds left.
They were a happy bunch despite losing Griffin, who injured his right big toe late in the second quarter. Griffin has a bruised right big toe but X-rays for a broken bone were negative. He will be evaluated for further tests.
Griffin appeared to injure his toe after he scored on a basket over Rodney Hood with 3 minutes 53 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Clippers called a timeout with 3:18 left in the second to allow Griffin to come to the bench.
Griffin then pounded the seat during the timeout before he walked away with Jasen Powell, the team’s director of medical services/head athletic services.
Griffin had 11 points and six rebounds before leaving the game.
During a first-round playoff series last spring against the Portland Trail Blazers, Griffin re-injured his left quadriceps tendon in Game 4 and didn’t play again.
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