Clippers into Western Conference finals for first time

Fourth seed’s comeback inspired by Terance Mann who scored a career-high 39 points

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George celebrates with Terance Mann during their win over Utah Jazz. Photograph: EPA

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George celebrates with Terance Mann during their win over Utah Jazz. Photograph: EPA

 

Terance Mann scored a career-high 39 points as the Los Angeles Clippers stormed back for a 131-119 win over the visiting Utah Jazz to clinch a 4-2 series victory and advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

The fourth-seeded Clippers, who trailed by 25 points in the third quarter, will face the second-seeded Phoenix Suns for the right to go to the NBA Finals. Game one is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Phoenix.

The Clippers dropped the first two games of the series before closing out with four straight wins to advance to the conference finals. They moved on despite playing the past two games without star forward Kawhi Leonard, who has a sprained right knee.

Mann hit 15 of 21 shots from the floor, including seven of 10 from three-point range. He had never scored more than 25 points in a regular-season game, and his previous postseason high was 13.

Paul George scored 28 points while Reggie Jackson added 27 points and 10 assists. Nicolas Batum contributed 16 points on six-for-nine shooting, and Patrick Beverley had 12 points.

Donovan Mitchell scored 39 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed nine rebounds for the Jazz. Despite playing with a sore right ankle, he made 12 of 27 shots from the field, including nine of 15 from beyond the arc.

Utah’s Royce O’Neal put up 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Jordan Clarkson also scored 21. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 14 points, and Rudy Gobert had 12 points and 10 boards.

The Jazz led 94-91 entering the fourth quarter. The Clippers trailed by 22 points at halftime but rallied with a 41-22 advantage in the third quarter.

Mann scored 20 points in the third to fuel the Clippers’ comeback. He averaged seven points per game during his second regular season out of Florida State, from where the Clippers drafted him No. 48 overall in 2019.

Utah led 72-50 at the half after Bogdanovic drilled a three-pointer with 29.9 seconds to go.

Mitchell then hit a three-pointer to increase Utah’s lead to 25 points on the first possession of the second half. George responded with a cutting dunk less than 30 seconds later, starting an 11-0 run that sparked the Clippers’ comeback.

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