George’s 4th quarter sparks Clippers past Cavs

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The Clippers bounced back from 26-points down to defeat the Cavaliers.

LOS ANGELES — It looked like the Los Angeles Clippers were on their way to another Sunday-matinee defeat when they hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

That was until Paul George made a 13-foot jumper and a crucial block in the final seconds, helping the Clippers rally to a 120-118 win over the Cavaliers.

“I can’t take credit for none of it without them,” said George, who also had 11 rebounds and seven assists. “Those guys hit the biggest shots of the afternoon.”

Six Cavaliers players finished in double figures despite the loss, including all five starters. Darius Garland led Cleveland with 28 points as Max Strus and Evan Mobley added 20 each. 

Cleveland was without Donovan Mitchell, who was managing an injured left knee.

Turning point: Sunday’s matinee game was tied 118-118 with less than 30 seconds left. George scored a jumper and gave LA a 120-118 lead with seven seconds left. 

Garland drove to the basket for a chance to give Cleveland a chance at overtime, but was blocked by George. Strus put up a missed shot as the buzzer hit, securing LA’s win.

What it means: The Clippers logged their 50th win of the season. The last time LA reached 50 victories was the 2016-17 season when it won 51. 

“To get to 50 wins from where we started, that’s huge,” said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue, recalling his team’s six-game losing streak in November.

The Clippers (50-28) stand in the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Half of those 50 wins came at Arena.

Hits: Russell Westbrook helped provide a spark off the bench in the third quarter. 

He finished with eight points, seven rebounds, six assists, one steal and two blocks while in 25 minutes of playing time.

LA’s lone turnover with Russell Westbrook on the floor Terance Mann’s second-half charge drawn by Isaac Okoro that cost the Clippers a challenge.

Misses: The Clippers won without Kawhi Leonard, who missed his fourth straight game because of an inflamed right knee. LA’s Daniel Theis also sat with a sprained left thumb.

“I don’t have a level of concern,” Lue said on Leonard’s injury status.

Stat of the game: George had a dominant second-half performance for the Clippers, playing in the last 32:23 of Sunday’s game. He outscored the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter, 23-20.

Aside from hitting some dire baskets on offense and getting big stops on the defensive side, George made all 16 of his free throws.

Outside of injuries, the Clippers also continued to struggle in the midday window. The  LA team has played 10 matinee games this season and has trailed by double-digits in all 10.

Up next: The Clippers head to Phoenix for a matchup against the Suns on Tuesday. The teams will meet again the next day at Arena, kicking off the Clippers’ last home stand.