LA Clippers coach Tyronn Lue did not plan to play Paul George for so many minutes in his first game back. He apparently was emphatic about George not playing 30 minutes, but circumstances changed all of that.
After being down by as much as 25 points, the Clippers did what they do best and found a way to force their way back in the game. A key factor to this was George’s contribution on both ends of the floor as he finished the game with 33 points, six assists, five steals and a block. He shot 10 of 20 from the floor (6 of 9 from beyond the arc) in 30 minutes of play.
George was all over the place when the Clippers made a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter that turned a 109-99 deficit into a 112-109 lead. That set up a furious finish to the game, where the Jazz retook the lead a couple of times but ultimately fell in a thrilling finish. The Jazz sure as hell didn’t expect that comeback, which even led to a flustered Donovan Mitchell calling a timeout when they had none left.
When the Clippers needed someone to step up and lead, PG-13 answered the call. Let’s take a quick look at his contributions in the lead-up to the victory. Here’s what he did, starting from when there was 5:37 left on the clock:
- 5:37 – Hit a three-pointer
- 4:28 – Assisted on a Luke Kennard bucket
- 1:37 – Makes a tough driving layup
- 1:06 – Assisted on a Luke Kennard three-pointer
- 50.5 – Stole the ball from Donovan Mitchell
He was also their vocal leader on the floor, and he was heavily involved in almost every big play that the Clippers had during that big run.
Coach Lue may not have wanted him to play that long, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to take him out when it mattered most. For a Clippers team that’s been missing its two stars for huge chunks of the season, this would have been a welcome sight.
With this kind of display from one star, I’m sure the rumors about a potential Kawhi Leonard return for the playoffs will go into overdrive. If it happens, it will be good for us NBA fans who want to see competitive basketball.