LOS ANGELES (AP) — Phoenix’ big three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul were all in go-mode.
As a result, the scrappy and shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers are on the verge of going home for the summer.
Durant scored 31 points, Booker added 30 and Paul bounced back big in the fourth quarter of a 112-100 victory over the Kawhi Leonard-less Clippers on Saturday to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.
“It’s definitely good when we all three are aggressive. We all did a solid job,” said Durant, acquired in February from the Brooklyn Nets. “We’re still growing and still trying to learn each other.”
The Clippers, who lost Game 3 by five points, again made a strong run with Leonard watching from the bench. He has missed two straight games with a sprained right knee. They’re also without Paul George, who hasn’t played since March 21 because of the same injury as Leonard.
“This team is going to stick around the whole game,” Durant said of the Clippers. “They’re never out of a game.”
Game 5 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday in Phoenix.
“We make no excuses around here,” Clippers guard Russell Westbrook said. “We just got to make sure we rally around each other, keep competing and leave it on the floor.”
Westbrook, who joined the Clippers in February, carried them in the fourth. He had 14 points, including nine in a row when they twice pulled within two points.
Westbrook finished with a game-high 37 points. Norman Powell added 14 points and Terance Mann had 13 off the bench.
But as the fourth wound down, the Clippers ran out of gas.
Paul, who at 37 has had many late-game big moments, had 12 points in the fourth, hitting key jumpers from all over the court each time Los Angeles threatened.
“I was just happy a few of them fell,” said Paul, who shot 5 of 18 for 11 points in Game 3.
Paul finished with 19 points on 8-for-17 shooting, nine assists and no turnovers against his former team. Booker had nine rebounds and seven assists. Deandre Ayton had 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Looking ageless at 34 while playing a game-high 44 minutes, Durant scored 11 points in the third, capped by a 3-pointer as the Suns erased an early eight-point deficit. They led 83-78 going into the fourth.
“We did a solid job of staying poised,” Durant said. “We were just terrible to start the third.”
The Clippers scored the first nine points of the third and Suns coach Monty Williams called timeout.
“Typically you have to list three, four things you have to do,” he said. “I don’t have to do that with these guys. They understand before I get there.”
The Suns trailed by 11 points early in the second, when they outscored the Clippers 25-17 and led 48-47 at the break.
“It was a back and forth battle,” Durant said. “They threw punches, we threw punches. We threw the last one.”
Suns: Cam Payne (low back soreness) has yet to play in the postseason.
Clippers: Westbrook became the sixth player in franchise history with consecutive postseason games of at least 30 points. He had 30 in Game 3. … Got outrebounded 49-33. … Bench outscored the Suns’ reserves, 26-9.
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Beth Harris, The Associated Press