‘Fire Under Us’: Clippers’ Paul George Reveals What Helped Them Bounce Back Against the Jazz

Published 06/13/2021, 12:13 AM EDT
Jun 12, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots while Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23) defends in the second quarter during game three in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports


The Utah Jazz reached Staples Center to play their first away game of the series against the Clippers. After pushing a flawless 8-0 start, thanks to the shooting range of Joe Ingles, the Jazz were in an excellent position to take control. However, they lost grip on their defense and the next thing everyone saw was a raging Clippers.

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Tyronn Lue started the game by calling a timeout in just 74 seconds. Perhaps he schooled his unit for allowing Jingles to take those open threes and sparked some fire in Paul George. Later, the crowd saw a different Clippers who dominated the Jazz on both ends. By halftime, the visitors were trailing by 15 points and ended the game on a 26-point difference.

Twitter blew horns to support the rebounding LA Clippers

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For the Clippers, Ivica Zubac and Kawhi Leonard proved highly effective against Donovan, blocking and stealing some crucial possessions. On the offensive end, Paul George looked immersed in ‘Playoff PG’ mode as he dropped a 20-point first half. And most notably, their center Nicolas Batum, at least on Saturday night, played more like a DPOY than Rudy Gobert.

Just as The Claw and PG combined for 65 points, it was a sign that the Clippers were back just as they were against the Mavs. In the post-game interview, 7x All-Star PG noted their initial troubles against the Mavs helped them and expressed, “[chuckles] I wish I could answer to that, it is what it is. A little fire under us, we had to come out and play. The way Dallas came here and had their way with us, we knew we had to come protect this home court.”

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Where did Utah Jazz fall short?

Firstly, Utah’s most important weapon, Donovan Mitchell, who later in Q4 injured his ankle, went scoreless in Q1 and that affected their offense. This was after two years that Spida had a bagel quarter in a playoff game. Plus, he was not effective in guarding the likes of Reggie Jackson as the latter scored at a crazy efficiency of 70%+ from the field. However, Spida made a comeback in Q2 with four three-pointers and 16 points. 

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Jun 12, 2021; Paul George drives to the basket against Rudy Gobert during game three of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Next, the Jazz were unable to force fouls and their offense inside the paint looked under-confident. They found their first free throw with 4 seconds remaining in the first half. With a furious Quin Snyder screaming at ref Kane Fitzgerald, the emotions revealed how the coach was in frustration.

The Clippers repeated their comeback storyline from Round 1 against the Mavs where they were 0-2 down in the series and had started Game 3 with an 11-30 deficit. With one more home game left before hitting the road, Steve Ballmer’s men are looking in a good shape. But do you think the Clippers will equalize the series in Game 4? Help us know your opinion in the comments.

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Watch this story – Kawhi Leonard/Paul George, Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving, & Other Top Duos from Playoffs

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Sourabh Singh

1449 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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