Paul George led all scorers with 32 points, including a late go-ahead basket with 1:08 remaining and the Los Angeles Clippers used a 17-3 run over the final three minutes of play to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-94 at Staples Center on Monday night.
George scored 27 second half points, the biggest shot being a 10-footer that gave the Clippers a 93-92 lead, their first since early in the first quarter.
“We just never think we’re out of the game,” George said after the come from behind win. “We had that last year. We have it this year. We’re gonna continue to fight.”
The Clippers star forward also recorded nine rebounds and seven assists, along with scoring eight points during the late run in the closing minutes.
“That’s my job,” George said.
Reggie Jackson scored 15, Luke Kennard had 14, all of which came in the second half, and Batum added 14 as well, converting four three-pointers for the Clippers.
“It’s an ugly win, but I’ll take an ugly win over a beautiful loss,” said Batum.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 28 points, while rookie Josh Giddey had 15 points, seven assists and six assists in the loss for the Thunder. Darius Bazley added 15.
The Thunder led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, 31-16 after a Mike Muscala free throw. Los Angeles closed the quarter on a 24-13 run and used a 9-0 run the third to get within three, after Kennard made back-to-back three-pointers, followed by a George three to cut their deficit to 66-63.
The Clippers shot 3 of 21 from three-point range in the first half, noting shots would have to start falling sooner or late.
“There was nowhere to go but up,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said.
“I thought early on, we had great looks. … Our bench guys started laughing, ‘We’re getting wide-open shots and we can’t make them,'” Lue added. “I felt like we were in a good place.”
Giddey made a jumper with 2:44 remaining in the fourth quarter to put the Thunder up 91-82, but the Clippers closed the game as an experienced playoff team would.
George responded by making two three-pointers, only before Kennard added to the run with a three-pointer of his own to tie the game at 91-91.
Oklahoma City had no answer for George, as he drained a contested jumper to give Los Angeles their lead, followed by a Jackson mid-range floater that allowed the Clippers to steal a 96-91 victory.
“We find a way to win,” Batum said. “We find a way and that’s what I like about this team. You know that was a tough week but down seven with three minutes, let’s go guys, let’s go find a way to win this game. Forget about what happened the previous 20 quarters.”
The Clippers will next prepare for a two-game road trip facing the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, followed by a rematch on Friday night.