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Clippers’ Paul George, Reggie Jackson react to Devin Booker’s 40-point triple-double, loss to Suns

Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Devin Booker, Suns, Clippers

Less than 38 hours after defeating the Utah Jazz and making franchise history, Paul George, Reggie Jackson, and the LA Clippers dropped the opening game of the Western Conference Finals. The Phoenix Suns, coming off a six day break after sweeping the Denver Nuggets, defeated the Clippers in Game 1, 120-114, led by Devin Booker‘s 40-point triple-double.

Paul George finished fourth 30-point game in five games, dropping 34 points, four rebounds, five assists, and three steals in Game 1. He was outperformed only by Booker, who poured in 40 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists for Phoenix on 15-of-29 shooting from the field.

All night long, Devin Booker’s dribble penetration put the Clippers in a bind, creating mid-range buckets for himself or three-point shooters like Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cameron Johnson and Torrey Craig.

“I think not quite as good as we have been,” Tyronn Lue said postgame. “He’s a beast and we understand that. We’ll go look at the tape and look at the film and just kind of go from there but he did a good job of attacking. We tried to double-team, we tried to blitz, we tried to fire. He took advantage of a lot of it. He had 11 assists today, so probably a career-high in that regard.

“We’ll watch the film and watch the tape and we’ll be ready to go for Game 2.”

Despite knocking down 20 three-pointers, the Clippers lost because they allowed 54 points in the paint to Phoenix. DeAndre Ayton scored 20 points on the night, all in the painted area.

“We’ve got to find a way to adjust,” Paul George said. “This is a different caliber team than the other two teams we faced. A little bit more guard play. And so we just have to figure out how to counter, which we will. We’ll figure out another game plan. As much as we wanted this one, I think this was a good feel-out game to see adjustments. We’ve been great adjusting, and you know, we’ve been great at playing better as the series goes on.”

Reggie Jackson scored 24 points, adding six rebounds, and four assists, but also had a postseason-high five turnovers. He was highly critical of his efforts despite being the reason the Clippers were even in the game with 15 second-half points.

“We have to figure out how to be better,” Jackson added. “Myself, I think we only had nine turnovers, I had five, so I have to protect the ball better, allow us to get shots and not waste possessions. We know the playoffs are a game of possessions. Think it was like a five-point game, I know it was under ten, and that’s five turnovers, that’s five shots and that’s potentially 15 points we don’t get.

“I have to help give ourselves a better chance and definitely figure out how we’ll be better. We’ll be ready in Game 2 to make our rotations to close out quicker. We know they got a lot of open looks. We gave them some comfortability and we have to try to smother them the next game.”

Devin Booker shot 12-of-22 on two pointers in the game and 3-of-7 on three-pointers. The shots the Clippers gave up, and the way it opened up the Suns’ offense, is something Tyronn Lue wants to switch up.

“I think there’s a problem on the post-up offensive rebounds, only had three tonight,” Tyronn Lue said. “That was mostly driving and making penetration, our bigs come and help, we were not getting crack back guys. So we were getting a lot of little layups and dunks in the middle of the paint because we didn’t commit fully to hit him and take him out and exit on the back side. We’ll watch the tape and we’ll watch the film and see what we need to do better.”

DeMarcus Cousins was the third Clippers player in double figures on the night behind Paul George and Reggie Jackson, and the team needed more from Marcus Morris, who finished with six points on 3-of-11 shooting in 22 minutes of play. He didn’t start the second half, only played six minutes in, but ESPN reports he was dealing with soreness in his knee.

The Clippers will look to regroup and take on the Suns in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals Tuesday night. Neither Chris Paul nor Kawhi Leonard are expected to play on Tuesday, but there is some optimism for each to make their respective returns at some point in this series.