Clippers’ season comes to an end in the first round

Phoenix claimed the first-round playoff series with the Clippers in five games.

Despite starting their quarterfinal series with the Suns without Paul George, the Clippers did have Kawhi Leonard. Leonard played some of his best basketball in Game 1 and 2 and made franchise history look possible for Los Angeles – its first NBA Championship. 

One sprained right knee changed all of that. The Phoenix Suns secured the first-round series after defeating the Clippers for the fourth straight time Tuesday, 136-130.

Both of the Clippers’ two top stars sat on the sidelines during Game 5 while Phoenix’s Devin Booker dropped 47 points to eliminate Los Angeles from the playoffs. 

Turning point: A 40-point performance from the Clippers in the second quarter gave Los Angeles the lead at halftime, 70-61. Devin Booker responded by outscoring the whole Clipper team, 25-24 and guiding Phoenix to a 20-point lead in the third quarter. 

Los Angeles did not go down without a fight, bringing the game back within two points with nearly two minutes left in the game. Two turnovers and a personal foul from the Clippers in the final minutes helped the Suns seal Game 5, 136-130.

What it means: The Clippers conclude their postseason after falling to Phoenix in the quarterfinals, 4-1. 

Hits: Los Angeles had a 26-16 rebounding advantage over the Suns in the first half. Norman Powell scored 27 points to lead the Clippers. Ivica Zubac had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Misses: Two Flagrant 1 fouls were assessed to Los Angeles, one each to Russell Westbrook and Terance Mann.

Stat of the game: Westbrook was at the helm of the ship for Los Angeles without George and Leonard. He averaged 23.6 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game and 7.4 assists per game. Westbrook led the Clippers in points assists, steals and blocks.

Up next: The Phoenix Suns will move on to face the Denver Nuggets in the semifinals. Game 1 is on Saturday at the Ball Arena.