LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul George got beat up again, came back and hit some big shots to help the Los Angeles Clippers rally late.
Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points and George added 19 in a 108-105 victory over the San Antonio Spurs yesterday.
Leonard’s one-handed dunk gave the Clippers a two-point lead with 1:35 remaining after they trailed by 15 in the first half. Leonard then blocked DeMar DeRozan’s shot, and George’s step-back jumper made it 106-102.
Patty Mills hit a three-pointer with two seconds left to draw the Spurs within one.
Lou Williams got fouled and made both for the Clippers. Mills’ half-court heave at the buzzer came up short.
George got hit in the nose by DeRozan’s left elbow at 6:02 of the third. After a video review, DeRozan was called for a flagrant-1 foul. DeRozan was driving to the basket when he struck George, who spun around and went down on his knees holding his face. A trainer brought over a towel to soak up the blood.
“I felt blood start trickling when it first happened and next thing I know it’s Niagara Falls flowing,” George said. “It’s not broken. It’s sore. It’s larger than usual right now so hopefully just ice it down, helps with the swelling.”
George has no plans to wear a protective mask.
“Tough cat. I thought it was broke, how it was leaking out there,” Williams said.
Asked if he thought George would return, Clippers coach Doc Rivers joked, “Yes, we’re a hockey team.”
George came back in the fourth. Last Saturday, he got poked in the eye against Minnesota and stayed in the game.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and DeRozan added 26 — but none in the fourth — for the Spurs, whose two-game winning streak ended. Aldridge had 13 points in the fourth.
Patrick Beverley’s three-pointer tied the game for the Clippers for the last time at 102-all.
Leonard’s streak of nine straight games with at least 30 points ended. George had a season-high 12 rebounds to go with a game-high eight assists.
“There’s still more improvement to go,” Leonard said of the Clippers. “Came out a little flat and early on not really playing hard on the defensive game, took a little while to pick that up.”
The Clippers dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Spurs 31-19, but led by just three going into the fourth. “We couldn’t capitalise and they did off our mistakes — transitions, dunks, 3s,” Mills said.
The Spurs blew a 15-point first-half lead and the game became a back-and-forth affair over the final two quarters.
“We did a good job upping our energy,” Williams said. “We spent too much time feeling them out instead of being forceful.”