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. pic.twitter.com/eleprREKT9

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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