NBA: George scores 39 as Clippers hang on to beat Suns

Paul George hit a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter to give the Clippers a 37-24 lead.
Paul George hit a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter to give the Clippers a 37-24 lead.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Paul George scored 39 points and the visiting Los Angeles Clippers snapped the Phoenix Suns' four-game winning streak with a 112-107 victory on Sunday (Jan 3) evening.

Kawhi Leonard scored 15 points on four-for-21 shooting, and Luke Kennard and Nicolas Batum scored 14 points apiece for the Clippers.

Devin Booker had 25 points and eight assists, Deandre Ayton had 24 points and eight rebounds, and Chris Paul and Dario Saric finished with 15 points each for the Suns, who entered the day tied for the best record in the National Basketball Association (NBA) at 5-1.

The Suns trailed by as many as 31 points in the first half before cutting the deficit to seven at the end of the third quarter.

Phoenix then scored the first five points of the fourth to trim the lead to 88-86, and got as close as one point with 10 minutes and 20 seconds remaining.

Booker missed a three-pointer with 34.6 seconds left that would have tied the score, and Batum made a three on the other end with 11.9 seconds remaining to give the Clippers a 110-104 lead.

The Clippers gained their big first-half lead behind a 23-0 run that bridged the first and second quarters.

George hit a three-pointer at the end of the first quarter to give the Clippers a 37-24 lead.

He scored 14 points in the opening quarter on five-for-seven shooting, and Los Angeles shot 60.9 per cent as a team.

Phoenix shot 11 for 19 in the opening quarter, but committed seven turnovers.

The Clippers then scored the first 15 of the second quarter to move ahead 52-24, the fifth time this season they have led by at least 20 points in the first half.

Los Angeles eventually took a 64-44 lead into half-time behind 22 points from George.

Phoenix continued to chip away at the lead and got within 15 points midway through the third quarter before cutting it to single digits on Cameron Johnson's three-pointer with 18.6 seconds left.

The score remained 88-81 entering the fourth.