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Suns hold off late Clippers rally, win Game 1 in Phoenix

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Phoenix forward Mikal Bridges celebrates while dunking over Clippers guard Rajon Rondo.
Phoenix forward Mikal Bridges celebrates while dunking over Clippers guard Rajon Rondo to help seal the Suns’ 120-114 victory Sunday in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference finals.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Clippers continued their postseason streak of late-game heroics, but Devin Booker’s triple-double was too much to overcome in the Suns’ 120-114 win.

The Clippers had less than 48 hours to prepare and still managed a late-game rally, but it wasn’t enough to turn away Devin Booker and the Suns.

Booker had 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists during a 120-114 win over the Clippers

Check back for more postgame coverage.

Paul George, Clippers ready to make adjustments after Game 1 loss

The Clippers have responded to adversity well during this postseason and Paul George expects the team to do it again after dropping Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Sunday.

“It’s nothing to panic over,” George told reporters, citing injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris Sr.

“We’ll figure out what we need to do better. Good thing about it, we expect a long series.”

Leonard missed the game because of a knee injury and Morris was limited with knee pain that kept him from starting the second half. Morris had six points and three rebounds on three-of-11 shooting in 21 minutes.

With Morris’ injury, DeMarcus Cousins made a rare appearance off the bench and scored 11 points in 13 minutes. He had played a combined 15 minutes in the postseason before Sunday.

The Clippers responded to an 0-2 deficit against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round and won Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals in Utah without Leonard, but George called the Suns “a different caliber team,” pointing to their elite guard play. The Phoenix backcourt still shined without Chris Paul, led by a triple-double from Devin Booker and 11 points with nine assists from Cameron Payne.

George had a team-high 34 points on 10-of-26 shooting in 39 minutes.

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‘Built for it’: Clippers’ Reggie Jackson not using short turnaround as excuse

The Clippers took the court in Phoenix for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals 36 hours after they knocked off the Utah Jazz at Staples Center and the short turnaround may have taken its toll in Sunday’s 120-114 loss to the Suns.

Reggie Jackson admitted he was “a little tired,” but didn’t want to use it as an excuse for the loss.

Jackson had 24 points, six rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes. He played 38 minutes against the Jazz in Game 6.

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Suns hold on for win over Clippers while Booker shines

The Suns survived a late push from the Clippers to win 120-114 behind a brilliant performance from Devin Booker.

The star guard notched his first career triple-double with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in his first appearance in the Western Conference finals. He scored 29 points in the second half.

Booker outdueled Paul George, who led the Clippers with 34 points, four rebounds and five assists. George was held to just one point in the fourth quarter.

The Suns were without point guard Chris Paul, but got by with a balanced offense that featured six double-digit scorers. Cameron Payne, who started in Paul’s place, had 11 points and nine assists. Deandre Ayton had 20 points and nine rebounds.

Reggie Jackson was the Clippers’ second-leading scorer with 24 points as he and George both played 39 minutes.

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Clippers within two after late streak

Back-to-back three-pointers from Rajon Rondo and Terance Mann have helped the Clippers put together an 8-0 run to inch within two points.

Mann’s three-pointer with 22 seconds remaining put the Clippers down 116-114.

Mann has nine points and Rondo has eight points with seven assists.

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Devin Booker notches first triple-double

Devin Booker recorded his first triple-double in style, lobbing an alley-oop to Mikal Bridges that put the Suns up 113-104 with 2:34 remaining.

Booker has 36 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the Suns are trying to close out a Game 1 victory over the Clippers.

The Clippers are wearing down in the fourth and haven’t scored in about two minutes.

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Clippers trying to come back late in fourth

They did it on Friday, now the Clippers are trying for another comeback win.

The Suns lead 109-101 with 4:46 to go after Deandre Ayton’s one-handed dunk forced L.A. to call a timeout. Ayton is one of five Suns players in double-digits with 20 points.

The Clippers fell behind by nine, then answered with a three-pointer from Rajon Rondo, the veteran guard’s first points of the night.

Paul George has just one point in the fourth quarter and is stuck on 34 for the night. The Clippers have just three players with 10 or more points, including Reggie Jackson (22) and DeMarcus Cousins (11). Cousins hasn’t scored in the second half.

Devin Booker is two assists away from a triple-double with 36 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Cameron Payne leads the Suns, who are shooting 55.7% from the field, with nine assists.

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Suns on eight-point run

The Suns have scored eight unanswered points, including five from Devin Booker, to take a 103-95 lead with 9:05 remaining.

The Suns capitalized on a brief rest for Paul George, who has playe 30 minutes with 33 points.

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Devin Booker, Paul George duel in third quarter

Devin Booker scored 18 of his 29 points in third quarter while Paul George countered with 33 points as the teams are tied 93-93 entering the fourth.

Booker is 12-of-21 from the field. He’s taken just three three-pointers (making two) and is instead doing damage at the rim and in the mid-range. He had seven rebounds and six assists and scored 16 consecutive points for the Suns as they responded to a Clippers run.

“It’s a Booker bonanza!” ESPN’s Mike Breen exclaimed as the guard knocked down a midrange jumper to put the Suns up 90-88.

George is the game’s leading scorer and got help in the third from Reggie Jackson, who has 20 points.

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Raining three-pointers in Phoenix

The Clippers are on a 16-2 run and have their largest lead of the game, up 84-78 with 3:44 to go in the third.

The L.A. surge comes after the Suns took their largest lead of the game to go up by nine. Paul George answered immediately with three straight three-pointers that tied the game.

Combined with a three-pointer from Reggie Jackson, the Clippers made four straight shots from distance to take a 79-78 lead.

George has 25 points while Jackson has 20. They’re shooting a combined 16-of-29 from three-point range.

The Suns are shooting 60% from the field compared to the Clippers’ 49.2%.

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Marcus Morris Sr. available to return

Marcus Morris Sr. did not start the second half because of knee pain, according to an in-game report from ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, but he is available to return.

Ivica Zubak started the second half in Morris’ place and has six points and one rebound in nine minutes.

The Clippers trail 74-68 with 7:41 to go in the third after a thunderous dunk by Deandre Ayton forced an L.A. timeout.

Ayton has 16 points and four rebounds while Cameron Payne has a game-high nine assists for the Suns.

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Back for the second half

Ivica Zubak gets the start in the second half over Marcus Morris Sr. Morris had four points and three rebounds in the first half and is getting treatment on his knee, according to ESPN’s report on the broadcast.

The Suns extended their lead early in the third quarter, up 62-56 with 10:41 to go.

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Suns take three-point lead at halftime

After 18 lead changes in the first half, the Suns inched ahead at the break with a 57-54 lead.

Neither team has led by more than five points. The Suns reeled off a 10-0 run to go up by five, but the Clippers responded with six straight points to regain the lead briefly and it seesawed back and forth.

The Suns are thriving on a balanced offense with eight of the nine players who have seen the court with at least two points. Only eight of 10 Clippers have scored, led by 17 points from Paul George.

George is the only member of the starting lineup in double-digit scoring for the Clippers. DeMarcus Cousins is the team’s second-leading scorer with 11 points.

The Suns have 16 assists on 25 made shots. Deandre Ayton has a team-high 14 points and four rebounds. Devin Booker has 11 points, six rebounds and three assists. Cameron Payne, who started in the place of Chris Paul, has a team-high six assists.

Rajon Rondo is scoreless but has five assists in 10 minutes.

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Let’s Boogie

The Clippers have already played 10 different players in the first half, including a rare appearance from DeMarcus Cousins.

The veteran who played just 15 minutes in the postseason prior to Sunday quickly made an impression on the game with an emphatic dunk over Dario Saric. Cousins has 11 points, one rebound and one assist in five minutes as the Clippers lead 37-35 with 7:15 remaining in the second quarter.

Rajon Rondo also has four assists off the bench.

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Clippers, Suns tied after first quarter

Led by 12 points, one rebound and two steals from Paul George, the Clippers are tied 21-21 with the Suns after the first quarter.

George is the leading scorer in the game, followed by the Suns’ Jae Crowder’s seven. Crowder also has five rebounds.

The Clippers have forced four turnovers while not turning it over once.

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‘Suns in 4,’ Part 2?

He’s one of the biggest stars of the postseason this year but hasn’t played a minute.

Yup, it’s the “Suns in 4" guy.

The fan who was involved in an altercation in the stands with Denver Nuggets fans during the Suns’ conference semifinal series returned to the arena Sunday to cheers. The clip of the fight in which the fan proclaimed “Suns in four” went viral and attracted the attention of the team. Guard Devin Booker was able to connect with him through social media, and now fellow fans are seeking out the star spectator for selfies.

With 2:37 remaining in the first quarter, the Clippers lead 21-18. Clippers coach Ty Lue is already digging into his bench with Ivica Zubak and Patrick Beverley to help keep his team fresh after a short turnaround.

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Clippers inch ahead early in fast-paced game

Clippers coach Ty Lue said before the game that the first six minutes “is going to be critical.” With that mark in mind, the Clippers lead 14-10 with 6:35 to go in the first.

Paul George continues to pick up the slack without Kawhi Leonard with seven early points. The Clippers are shooting 60% from the field to start the game.

The Suns are five-of-13 from the field, led by four points from Deandre Ayton. Guard Devin Booker, who is expected to play a pivotal role without Chris Paul, has two points and one rebound.

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Play ball

The Suns get on the board first and we’re underway in the Western Conference finals. The “Beat L.A.” chants are echoing throughout the arena in Phoenix.

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Clippers working on short notice

The Clippers were on the clock immediately after completing a 25-point comeback to reach the Western Conference finals: 36 hours before their next game.

With the short turnaround, Clippers coach Ty Lue will try to spread the minutes around in Game 1, he told reporters. The Clippers managed just one film session and a short walkthrough before Sunday’s afternoon tip.

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Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul out for Game 1

Both Western Conference finalists will be without their top stars in Game 1 as Suns guard Chris Paul is still in health and safety protocols and Kawhi Leonard is out for the Clippers with a knee injury.

Leonard will miss his third straight postseason game, but the Clippers managed to advance past the Utah Jazz to their first conference finals. Leonard did not travel to Phoenix for Sunday’s game, instead opting to stay in L.A. for additional treatment on his sprained right knee. Coach Ty Lue told reporters he was unsure about the two-time NBA champion’s status for Game 2.

Paul entered protocols last Wednesday as the Suns, fresh off a semifinal sweep of the Denver Nuggets, were waiting for their next opponent.

The Suns point guard is averaging 15.7 points and 8.7 assists per game in the postseason as the Suns are 8-2 entering the conference finals against the Clippers. Without the 36-year-old guard running the offense, Suns coach Monty Williams said he might have to shoulder more of the play-calling load from the sidelines.

Here are the starting lineups for Game 1:

Clippers:

  • Terance Mann
  • Marcus Morris Sr.
  • Nicolas Batum
  • Paul George
  • Reggie Jackson

Suns

  • Mikal Bridges
  • Jae Crowder
  • Deandre Ayton
  • Devin Booker
  • Cameron Payne
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Clippers’ historic win: 13 incredible facts about the team’s comeback vs. the Jazz

Clippers players on the sideline.
Clippers guard Terance Mann is hugged by teammates Ivica Zubac, left, and DeMarcus Cousins during a timeout in Game 6 on Friday night at Staples Center.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

It’s late, I’m tired, yet can’t sleep because I’m not sure what I just saw was real. Terance Mann, the Clippers’ No. 13, had a game for the ages when the second-year wing scored a career-high 39 points in a 131-119 win at Staples Center.

Here are 13 incredible facts about the Clippers’ 25-point comeback to advance to the Western Conference finals, which start on Sunday against the Suns in Phoenix:

1. This was the Freaky Friday version of Game 6 between the Houston Rockets and the Clippers from 2015. In that game, with the Clippers on the cusp of advancing, Houston trailed by 19 before Corey Brewer and Josh Smith (and not James Harden) brought Houston back from the dead.

This was the opposite. With the Clippers down by 25 points early in the third quarter Friday, it was another role player’s turn to flip that script — Mann’s. He scored 20 points in the third quarter — more than he had in all but four of his previous professional games — and his 39 points were just 60 fewer than he scored during his rookie season.

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How did the Clippers pull this off? ‘T. Lue,’ says Paul George

Nicolas Batum prepares to run onto the court as Tyronn Lue calls out from the sideline.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue instructs players next to forward Nicolas Batum during a playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks on May 25.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The question was simple with anticipation that the answer would be complex.

Paul George, the Clippers’ last star standing, slid his left hand around his face as he took a deep breath. His team had just undone its second consecutive 2-0 series deficit, going a remarkable 8-1 in the first and second rounds of the NBA playoffs after the winless starts.

He’d just managed to reach the conference finals for the first time in the history of the Clippers’ half-century existence, silencing critics and slaying invisible curses all at once.

“How?” the reporter wondered.

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ICYMI: Clippers make history with Terance Mann leading win over Jazz

Reggie Jackson, alongside Terance Mann, lifts up both arms in front of applauding fans.
Clippers teammates Reggie Jackson, right, and Terance Mann celebrate during the Clippers’ Game 6 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Not this time, not this team.

The Clippers have never been here — no matter that “here” isn’t the goal. It’s on the way, a level they’ve never reached, an accomplishment they’ve never achieved.

The Clippers are eight wins away from their first NBA title. They’re four wins away from their first NBA Finals appearance, from their first conference championship.

And they did it by completely turning the tables on their tragic history, this time by being the team that delivered the epic comeback from epicly unlikely sources, leaving the Utah Jazz stunned and heartbroken.

For the second straight round of the playoffs, the Clippers have fought from their backs, shedding the frontrunner image cultivated by their recent round of failures, to be the tougher team, the one with more fight and with more grit.

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Column: Clippers go from cursed to franchise first by reaching conference finals

Highlights from the Clippers’ 131-119 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals.

Their former owner treated them as if they were one of his neglected rental properties. They were the franchise of Danny Manning and Danny Ferry, of the Kandi Man and unfathomable cave-ins. They were cursed. They were losers.

On Friday night, in the 51st season of their existence, the ugly frogs of the NBA finally were kissed by the goddesses of victory.

The Los Angeles Clippers are in the Western Conference finals.

With a 131-119 win over the Utah Jazz, the Clippers did more than advance to a stage of the postseason they had never reached.

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