LOS ANGELES, United States, Feb 4 – Paul George bounced back from a subpar contest and used it for motivation as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday to avoid losing consecutive games for the first time this season.
George drained a season-high eight threes en route to 36 points as the Clippers crushed the Cavaliers 121-99 to remain the only team in the NBA not to have suffered back-to-back defeats.
On Wednesday, the Clippers couldn’t handle the trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving as host Brooklyn beat them 124-120, sending the Clippers to just their second defeat in the last dozen contests.
George doesn’t dwell on bad games but rather sees an opportunity to learn about himself and improve his skills.
“Last night was great preparation for tonight,” he said, who made eight-of-nine attempts from beyond the arc. “I did a bad job of shooting my shots. I told myself if I get the same looks, I am going to knock it down.
“My teammates did a great job of looking for me. They set me up and screened for me.”
It was a tired Clippers team that beat the Cavaliers as they finished off their six-game road trip on a winning note in front of a pandemic-limited crowd of 2,000 at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.
“We wanted to end this trip on a great note. We didn’t want to lose two in a row,” said George.
Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points and Croatia’s Ivica Zubac delivered 10 points and 16 rebounds off the bench for the Clippers, who finished 4-2 on the road trip.
The Clippers started the trip without both George and Leonard who were sidelined by Covid-19 protocols.
Collin Sexton scored 16 of his 27 points in the first half for Cleveland, and Darius Garland contributed 23 points in the loss.
“Paul George had more threes than our team,” Garland said. “I don’t think we’re going to win many games shooting just twos.”
George sank his eighth three-pointer with 5:09 left to give the Clippers their biggest lead of the contest at 110-93.
“We’re getting better,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “We’ve got some things we’ve still got to get better at. We’ve still got a long way to go.”
Los Angeles was without Patrick Beverley, who missed every game on the road trip with a sore knee.
In Milwaukee, two-time reigning NBA most valuable player Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a triple-double of 21 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists to fuel the Bucks’ 130-110 rout of the Indiana Pacers.
Antetokounmpo connected on seven of eight shots from the field and seven of eight from the free throw line, and the Bucks led from wire-to-wire, taking a 106-72 advantage into the final period — when Antetokounmpo sat out along with the rest of Milwaukee’s starters.
– Double-double for Doncic –
Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with a career-high 33 points and 12 rebounds, but Indiana, coming off Tuesday’s 134-116 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, couldn’t slow a Bucks team that made 21 three-pointers.
Elsewhere, Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway combined for 73 points to help the Dallas Mavericks snap a six-game losing streak with a 122-116 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Doncic scored 27 points, posting his 11th double-double with eight rebounds and 14 assists.
Porzingis tallied 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Hardaway came off the bench to score 22.
In New Orleans, Zion Williamson scored 28 points as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Phoenix Suns 123-101. Williamson made 12 of 14 field-goal attempts while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out six assists.