The Los Angeles Clippers answered the call on Saturday night in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series with the Utah Jazz as Paul George and Kawhi Leonard made sure that Los Angeles would not fall into a 3-0 deficit against the top seed in the Western Conference by coming away with a 132-106 win.
While the Jazz hung around for the majority of the night, it was the Clippers who finished the job with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter to put things out of reach. George and Leonard combined for 65 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the win, while the Clippers also received major contributions from Reggie Jackson and Nic Batum as each finished the win with 17 points.
On the other side, Donovan Mitchell was fantastic for the Jazz yet again as he scored 30 points to lead the way for Utah. Unfortunately, he appeared to tweak his ankle during the middle of the fourth quarter and would ultimately not return to the game, despite the fact he remained on the bench.
With the win, the Clippers have new life in this series and will have a chance to even things up on Monday night when these two teams meet again in Game 4.
Here are three key takeaways from the game:
1. P.G. takes over the first half...
Paul George wasn't at his best to start this series, averaging just 23.5 points on 34.2 percent shooting as the Clippers dropped Games 1 and 2 in Salt Lake City. He was determined not to let that poor play carry over into Game 3, and came out aggressive and looking to score.
Just a few minutes in, he threw down a dunk off a feed from Marcus Morris, then hit a step-back jumper. From there, he was off, hitting jumper after jumper to finish with 20 points in the first half alone. He carried the Clippers early on, and got them out to an early double-digit lead.
When the final buzzer sounded, he had 31 points and five assists on 12-for-24 from the field. This was easily his best game of the postseason so far, and came at the perfect time for the Clippers. They needed a response after going down 2-0 for the second series in a row, and George delivered.
2. Kawhi carries the Clippers home
The first half of Game 3 was all about Paul George, who was unguardable at times and set the Clippers up with a double-digit lead. After the break, Kawhi Leonard took over and carried the Clippers home with one of the most flawless stretches of basketball we've seen in a while.
A few years ago, after Leonard led the Toronto Raptors to the title, there was some talk about whether he was the best player in the league. That time has passed, but when he puts together performances like he did on Saturday night, it's easy to remember why that was a genuine debate.
In the second half alone, Leonard went for 24 points, six rebounds and three assists on 10-for-12 from the field. Once he decided he was going to take over, there was absolutely nothing the Jazz could do to slow him down. He got to his spot time and again, and made sure the Jazz never made a serious comeback attempt.
3. Jazz's 3-point shooting not enough
The Jazz had the fourth-best offense in the league in the regular season, and a big reason why was their elite 3-point shooting. They took 43 3-pointers per game, which was the most in the league by a wide margin, and still finished fourth in percentage at 38.9 percent.
In Game 3, they were at it again. Joe Ingles knocked down two 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds, and they finished 19-for-44 from downtown. If you don't count some garbage time attempts, the numbers would have been even better. Shooting that well from beyond the arc would all but guarantee a win most nights, and coming into the game they were 21-4 this season when making at least 19 3-pointers.
This time around, it wasn't enough. One problem for the Jazz was that they couldn't slow down the Clippers' 3-point attack. It's great to make 19 3s, but if you allow the other team to make that many as well, it obviously negates any advantage you would have gained. Another issue was that the Jazz couldn't get anything going inside. They went 17-for-40 on 2-pointers overall, and just 14-for-25 at the rim. Even though the Clippers went small this game -- Ivica Zubac was benched and only played 13 minutes -- the Jazz didn't have any success attacking the rim.