For the third series in a row, Paul George, Tyronn Lue, and the LA Clippers bounced back from an 0-2 hole to win Game 3. The Clippers defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 3, 106-92, giving them their first win of the series. Bouncing back from the heartbreaking Game 2 loss wasn’t easy, however.
Paul George had two clutch free throws with eight seconds remaining that could’ve put the Clippers up three. Instead, he missed both, giving the Suns a chance to score for the win. They did just that. Deandre Ayton’s buzzer-beating alley-oop dunk with only 0.9 seconds gave Phoenix Game 2 and sent the Clippers home with an 0-2 hole that felt a lot like 0-3.
After landing at LAX at approximately 1:30AM, everybody headed their own ways for an expected day off until Game 3. As soon as he got in his car, Ty Lue picked up his phone and started making some calls.
“I had some conversations with a lot of guys after the game once we landed,” Lue revealed before the game. “Just called a few guys and said, ‘Listen, it was a tough game, but at the end of the day, it was on their home floor. They won two games. It was a tough one to swallow, but it’s over. We’ve got to move forward. We can’t live in the past.’ It hurt. I was hurt a little bit, as well, because we had a chance to win one on their home floor. But it didn’t happen, so now we’ve just got to move on, be ready for Game 3.”
Patrick Beverley called Game 2 one of the hardest games to swallow because the team essentially felt they had it won and let it slip away. George, a career-85 percent free throw shooter, missed two free throws and the Suns executed a very difficult out-of-bounds play to perfection.
“After the game we landed, got home, first person I called was PG,” Ty Lue told members of the media. “I just told him, ‘We wouldn’t be in this position without you. That game’s over. It happens. Doesn’t mean anything. They took care of their two games at home and now we’ve got to go win our two games.’ And that’s the most important thing. So we can’t look at the past. We’ve got to look ahead.
“I called him, I called Pat Beverley and called a few of the guys and just said, ‘That’s over. We had a chance to steal one, we didn’t do it, it’s behind us, so now we’ve got to move on.’ I thought PG did a great job of just moving on like I said and having a big night in Game 3.”
"We landed, we got back home, first person I called was PG. I just told him ‘we wouldn't be in this position without you. That game's over, it happens, it doesn't mean anything’ … I called him, I called Pat Beverley, a few guys."
Ty Lue on calling his guys right after Game 2. pic.twitter.com/J300oiZ1x4
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) June 25, 2021
Paul George told members of the media he was moving on shortly after the team’s Game 2 loss, but specified he really shifted his focus after the flight and conversations. Whatever Ty Lue told him clearly worked.
“[It was] after the flight,” Paul George explained. “You know, we were on the plane. We talked about it. We hashed it out. And immediately we got ready for Game 3. Simple as that. We had to move on. I thought we did a great job of moving on. I moved on. I know I have to be better. I have to be better. So everything was just put in going into Game 3. All my energy was directed towards a better game in Game 3.”
George bounced back in a big way for the Clippers, playing the entire second half en route to 27 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists in 43 minutes of play. He did struggle shooting, making just nine of his 26 shot attempts, but it was his aggressiveness and all-around play that helped the Clippers get back in this series.