Trainer Tyronn Lue’s team find themselves in an all-too-familiar hole after losing a thriller in Phoenix on Tuesday night, where they 104-103 to a buzzing alley-oop tip-in from Deandre Ayton with 0 , 7 of a. fell second left in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
The Suns were 0.9 seconds behind when Jae Crowder lofted a high pass over the 6-foot-11 DeMarcus Cousins in an out-of-bounds at the baseline. The soaring 6-11 Ayton came down the lane and stuffed it through the net over Clipper’s 7-footer Ivica Zubac for the decisive basket.
The umpires spent about a minute reviewing the game before deciding the basket was good! ”
“It sucks to be right there and lose, but it’s basketball,” said Reggie Jackson of the Clippers. “The ball can bounce in both directions. We’re a confident group, we’re going to leave this behind, we’re going to watch movies, make a few more adjustments, things we can do better. But I like our chances, I like this team, I like our struggle and our resilience. ”
Patrick Beverley’s heady defense – and one more official review – almost made all the difference before Ayton did.
But Paul George missed two free throws after Beverley threw the ball away from a moving Devin Booker – and official verification revealed that the ball was the last to touch Booker and return the ball to the Clippers, 103-102 at 9, 3 seconds before the end.
The Suns fouled George to stop the game, and George missed both fouls to kill the Suns. It was only the second time this season that George went 0 for 2 on a trip to the free-throw line; the only other time: 21. February versus Brooklyn.
Mikal Bridges secured the rebound, but after a time-out Bridges missed a 3-pointer from the corner but the ball went off the Clippers – setting up Crowder-to-Ayton’s game winner.
The Clippers came in with just 0.7 on the clock and were one point behind, but George missed his last look after Nicolas Batum found him with a long-of-the-floor pass.
“I thought we played well, we had a chance to win the game,” said Lue. You won with a tip-in, now we have to go home and take care of business. You won two games in your home country, we understand that. We were in this position before, even if we hate it, our boys fought and competed against each other and in the end played a big game. ”
It was a dazzling, drawn out game without all-stars Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, a lot of flow or rhythm – or points.
Neither team led double digits or scored more than 30 points in a quarter up to the fourth third.
Quietly for much of the night, Booker (20 points) and George (26 points) swapped baskets on the track while their teams swapped the lead; George assumes the Clippers 103-102 with 22.2 ticks to go.
Beverley had a lot to do with Booker’s modest output (he only shot 5 for 16 and had seven of his team’s nine turnovers).
The idea, Jackson said, is “not to let him get too much rhythm. Pat did a great job trying to disturb him, kept him busy most of the night, I like this matchup. Great player, great defender, a dog ready to compete every night. ”
Game 3 is Thursday night at the Staples Center. The fourth-seeded Clippers have already made NBA history as the first team to recover from a 2-0 deficit twice in the same postseason. They have also made team history by reaching the conference finals for the first time.
If they want to extend their run, they have to climb out of a hole against the second-seeded Suns, who have now won nine games in a row and since losing game 3 of their first-round series against the. did not lose the Lakers on May 27th.
Leonard missed his fourth game in a row due to a sprained right knee. Paul remained in exile for the second game under the health and safety protocols of COVID-19.
An unlikely hero emerged for the Suns: Cameron Payne admirably replaced Paul at point guard with a career high of 29 points in 12v24 shooting.
After the teams had swapped baskets in the last few minutes – including George’s first 3-pointer in eight attempts – the clippers’ gap ebbed between five and three points.
It was Payne’s finger roll with 1:34 left that pushed Phoenix 100-95 forward.
After the Clippers regained possession of the ball after winning a coaching challenge, Luke Kennard (10 points, all in the fourth quarter) put a short jumper to reduce the lead to 100-97.
Beverley pulled an offensive foul on Booker – they had a run in the previous quarter – to win the ball back. Booker was then fouled for colliding with George, who came to the line to boo and ridicule – and knocked down both free throws to score 100-99 with 56 seconds to go.
George went the distance of the court and snaked through the defense of the suns for the starting shot, which made it to 101: 100 30 seconds behind.
Beverley and Booker both had to leave the game at 3:22 to play in the third quarter after the Clippers aggressive defender fouled and accidentally headed the Sun’s star near the 3-point line would have.
The piece left Booker on the hardwood, bleeding from the bridge of his nose, and Beverley stomped off, the front of his white jersey covered in red too.
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Booker needed stitches before returning to start the fourth quarter. Beverley was previously back on the bench after receiving treatment for a forehead injury (which did not require stitches).
Both returned in the fourth quarter when Kennard helped keep the Clippers close.
The Clippers got bigger at the beginning of Game 2 and put Zubac back into the starting line-up for the first time since Game 2 against Utah in the second round. Marcus Morris Sr. (seven points 3v11) was also in the starting line-up despite suffering from knee pain that made Clippers coach Tyronn Lue unsure whether he could play in Game 2.
The Suns were led by Cameron Payne, who was brilliant when he played for All-Star Chris Paul. He finished with a career high of 29 points. Ayton had 22 points and 14 rebounds, while Booker – who had a 40-point triple-double in Game 1 – ended up with 20 points (on 5-of-16 shoots) and a couple of tricks.
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