Paul George, Kawhi Leonard help Clippers past Nuggets for series lead


Paul George scored 32 points, Kawhi Leonard added 23 along with a big late block and the dynamic duo helped the Los Angeles Clippers rally in the fourth quarter for a 113-107 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series Monday night.

Leonard did a little bit of everything as he grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out six assists. He also had two blocks, including one late on a shot by Jamal Murray at the rim.

Los Angeles takes a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Wednesday.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers called a timeout to calm down the Clippers with 8:29 left and trailing 97-90. Fueled by defence, Los Angeles went on a 14-4 run to take a 104-101 lead. The Cilppers wouldn’t trail again.

Lou Williams sealed the win with a driving layup that extended the lead to six with 2:04 left. George turned in a torrid shooting night. He finished 12 of 18 from the floor, including five 3-pointers.

Nikola Jokic had 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for Denver despite a sore right wrist that had him questionable before the game.

The All-Star centre had the pass of the night in the third quarter, when he grabbed a rebound, quickly spun around and sent a perfect, full-court strike to Jerami Grant for a dunk.

Jokic proved to be a handful for the Clippers with JaMychal Green, Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell picking up early fouls trying to cover him. Zubac fouled out with 4:07 remaining.

Rookie reserve Michael Porter Jr. finished with 18 points for the Nuggets, while Murray was held to 14 on 5 of 17 shooting.

Denver was cruising along in the second quarter, leading by 12 points with 3:34 left before halftime, before the Clippers roared back. They closed the half on a 12-2 run to make it 59-57 at the break.

Clippers G Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 by the league Monday for verbally abusing a game official in Game 2. Marcus Morris had 12 points.

Denver outscored the Clippers by a 58-42 margin in points in the paint.. Grant and Paul Millsap each had 11 points.

Underdog role

Nuggets coach Michael Malone plays up the “Us vs. The World” motivation card. He felt his team was written off against Utah after falling behind 3-1 in the series. He thought many believed the Nuggets would get swept after losing Game 1 in lopsided fashion before rebounding to take Game 2.

“No one gives this team a chance to do a lot of things,” Malone said. “We don’t really care what what anybody thinks about us, especially outside of Colorado. It’s the belief that we have in the locker room. It’s been there since day one.”

For now, Beverley remains on a minutes restriction as he heals from a strained left calf. He played a little more than 12 minutes in Game 1 and 15 minutes in Game 2. He was on the court for more than 20 minutes in Game 3.

“I do think each game, hopefully there will be an uptick,” Rivers said. “It’s better than not having him.”

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