Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, center, dunks over Utah Jazz center Derrick Favors, right, as guard Donovan Mitchell watches during the first half in Game 4 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard and Paul George each scored 31 points — the second straight game they have both had over 30 points — and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 118-104 on Monday night to even their Western Conference second-round series at two games apiece.
Leonard provided the highlight of the night with his dunk late in the second quarter. He got the ball just beyond the 3-point line, drove past Royce O’Neale in the lane and then slammed it over Derrick Favors to give the Clippers a 62-38 lead with 1:24 remaining in the second quarter.
“We’re trying to be aggressive as well as being aggressive for others. It’s a healthy mix to be able to do both,” said George, who was playing in his 100th career postseason game.
Leonard and George have each scored at least 20 points in all 11 games this postseason. They are just the third duo in NBA history to do that in a team’s first 11 playoff games and the first since Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Lakers in 2003.
Jerry West, who watched Monday’s game from courtside, and Elgin Baylor were the other duo with the 1962 Lakers.
Marcus Morris added 24 points and went 5 of 6 on 3-pointers for fourth-seeded Los Angeles. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.
“I thought it was our defense where we set the tone. We were able to get out in transition,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.
Donovan Mitchell led Utah with 37 points, making him the first player since Golden State’s Stephen Curry in 2019 to have six straight 30-point games in the playoffs.
Joe Ingles added 19 and Bojan Bogdanovic 18 for the top-seeded Jazz, who has lost back-to-back playoff games for the first time this year.
“We were playing hard. We were competing. We weren’t playing smart in that we weren’t connected,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “That showed with the 13-point first quarter that we were trying to attack, but we weren’t attacking as much — we weren’t putting ourselves in situations where we could have success, I think.”
Utah won the tip and scored on Bogdanovic’s dunk before the Clippers scored the next 10 points and never looked back as Leonard had five points during the early run.
LA’s largest lead in the first quarter was 19 as it was 6 of 12 on 3-pointers and forced six Utah turnovers.
Morris hit a pair of free throws with 5:21 remaining to put the Clippers up 51-22, which was their largest lead of the night. They had a 24-point advantage at halftime (68-44), which is tied for their second biggest in postseason franchise history.
LA led 105-85 with 6:48 remaining before the Jazz countered with a 17-7 run to cut it in half with 2:10 left.
Jazz: NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert was in foul trouble most of the night and finished with 11 points. … Jordan Clarkson was only 3 of 12 from the field and 2 of 8 on 3-pointers after averaging 5.3 made from beyond the arc in the first three games. … G Mike Conley remained out due to a right hamstring strain. Snyder did not have an updated timetable on when Conley could return.
Clippers: Morris Sr. is 16 of 27 (59.3%) on 3-pointers during LA’s six postseason victories but is 7 of 33 (21.2%) in the five losses. … Patrick Beverley had a postseason career-high four blocks. … G Rajon Rondo was inactive due to right knee soreness. Lue said before the game that he planned to stick with a nine-player rotation moving forward.