Paul George bounces back as Clippers take 3-2 series lead over Mavericks

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Los Angeles Clippers secured a 154-111 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, taking a 3-2 series lead. 

The main reason: Paul George had a bounce-back game.

He finished with 35 points while shooting 12-of-18 from the field, i4-of-8 from 3-point range, and went 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. That marked a stark improvement from what George showed in Game 2 (4-of-17), Game 3 (3-of-16) and Game 4 (3-of-14). His 35 points Tuesday were more than he scored in those three contests combined (34 points). 

"The bubble got the best of me. I was just in a dark place," George said of his prior games in the series on TNT following the Clippers' win. But he added: "I found my way. I'm back." 

“The bubble got the best of me… Shout out to everyone who stood behind me.”

Paul George on his start to the playoffs.

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard added 32 points while shooting 12-of-19 from the field, including a 2-for-4 mark from deep.

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic looked limited both because of his injured left ankle and the Clippers' defense. He had 22 points on only 6-of-17 shooting along with more turnovers (five) than assists (four).  

The Clippers' Paul George heads to the bench with the lead in hand in Game 5 against the Mavericks. (Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)

The Mavericks were without forward Kristaps Porzingis for the second consecutive game because of right knee soreness. Clippers guard Patrick Beverley sat for a fourth consecutive game because of a strained left calf. 

Game 6 is on Thursday (9 pm ET). 

Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

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