George's late show sparks Clippers over Cleveland 120-118

George's late show sparks Clippers over Cleveland 120-118
George's late show sparks Clippers over Cleveland 120-118

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LOS ANGELES: Paul George led a remarkable comeback Sunday as the Los Angeles Clippers overturned a 26-point deficit to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-118 in the NBA.

George erupted for 23 points in a fourth quarter charge, including the go-ahead shot with seven seconds remaining and then made a crucial block to preserve the Clippers’ lead just before the buzzer.

It was the final act of an incredible individual display by George who finished with 39 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists and who was a perfect 16-of-16 from the free throw line.

James Harden added 22 points while Ivica Zubac, Terance Mann and Norman Powell all had 14 points apiece.

“It was a collective team win,” George said afterwards.

“I can’t take credit for none of it without them. It couldn’t have happened without those guys chipping in and doing what they do.”

The Clippers had looked to be heading for a monumental beatdown after a disastrous first half performance that saw Cleveland rack up back-to-back 40-point quarters to lead 80-59 at half-time.

“I knew we weren’t ourselves,” George said of his team’s first-half. “At that point I was locked in and committed to do whatever it takes to win.”

The victory boosts the Clippers’ chances of securing the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Los Angeles improved to 50-28 to remain fourth in the standings, ahead of the fifth-placed Dallas Mavericks, who are 48-30.

Both teams have four regular season games remaining.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, kept up their late season charge with a third straight victory in a 147-136 overtime win over the Houston Rockets.

Kyrie Irving led the way with 48 points while Luka Doncic had 37 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds as the Mavericks came back from 22 points down to prevail.

The defeat ensured Houston’s elimination from postseason contention.

“It’s just about the trust and understanding that we have each other’s back,” Jason Kidd said of the Mavericks’ never-say-die approach.

“No matter what’s happening, there’s an understanding that we’re playing for one another. Houston gave us their best shot, we took it and found a way to win.

“That’s the beauty of our locker room — no one caved, no one let go of the rope, no one quit.”

Houston’s loss also means the Golden State Warriors, who were playing later Sunday, are assured of at least a top 10 finish.

In other games Sunday, the Miami Heat stumbled to a 117-115 defeat in a crucial battle against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.

The Pacers improved to 45-34 and they remain in pole position to clinch the sixth automatic playoff place in the Eastern Conference.

Miami, who sit in seventh and are set for the play-in tournament, fell to 43-35.

The Pacers led from virtually start to finish, with all of their starters finishing in double figures led by Myles Turner with 22 points.

Phoenix’s hopes of securing an automatic playoff spot from the Western Conference are also hanging in the balance after they slumped to a 113-105 loss at home to the New Orleans Pelicans.

C.J. McCollum scored 31 points while Zion Williamson added 29 as the Pelicans snatched a victory that leaves both sides locked on 46-32 with four games remaining.

Phoenix occupy the sixth and final play-off place in the West by virtue of their season record against New Orleans, who are seventh.

Both teams enter the final week of the season knowing there is little margin for error, with the eighth-placed Los Angeles Lakers (45-33) also in the mix.

Elsewhere, the New York Knicks sent the Milwaukee Bucks spinning to a fourth straight loss, with Jalen Brunson posting 43 points in a 122-109 win on the road.

Eastern Conference top seeds Boston, meanwhile, sailed past the Portland Trail Blazers 124-107.

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