P.G.’s hot shooting helps Doc Rivers celebrate milestone

Two games into the NBA restart of the 2019-2020 season and the Los Angeles Clippers are batting .500. After coming up short against the Los Angeles Lakers in their first real meaningful game since mid-March, the Clippers took out their frustration in Game 2 with a rout of the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Clippers’ 126-103 win against the Pelicans captured quite a few great highlights for the team.

First, the victory gave Clippers coach Doc Rivers the 939th win of his career, moving him past former Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach for 11th place on the all-time winningest coach list. For Rivers, this win was something special. Rivers coached the Celtics for nine seasons and led Boston to an NBA title in 2008.

“For me, I’ve been very fortunate,” Rivers said. “I’ve had unreal players and unreal coaches. I’ve had great staff and great ownership that have allowed me to coach this long. Under the circumstances, pretty cool. Any time your name is with Red, you feel very fortunate.”

Paul George
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“We stood up for something. We kneeled for something,” said Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George on NBA players taking a knee during the restart to the NBA season. Photo by Mark Hammond for News4usonline

Kawhi Leonard, who scored 24 points for the Clippers, was happy for his coach.

“It’s amazing,” Leonard said. “It’s only so many coaches that could get to that mark. I think that he’s top 15, top 11 now. I’m excited for him. But he’s a coach that’s not really worried about that stat. He’s trying to focus on the main goal, and that’s winning a championship. Yeah, he really never talks about himself. It’s a team thing. I respect him.”

The second positive mark for the evening was the extraordinary way the Clippers shot the basketball from behind the arc. Led by Paul George’s hot downtown shooting (8-of-11 shooting from 3-point range), the Clippers more than made up for that 103-101 loss to the Lakers, connecting on a franchise-record 25 made 3-point shots during a regular-season game.

The Clippers made 25 of 47 shots from behind the arc, something that’s never been done in the team’s history. As the Clippers built a 77-45 halftime lead, George had already made four 3-point shots. As a team, the Clippers converted 16 of 24 shots from behind the 3-point line during the first two quarters against New Orleans.

“It feels great,” George said. “At that point, it’s find the open man. The team gets going like that, you want to share the ball because you want everybody to be a part of that. I thought it was contagious tonight. One guy made a shot, next guy made a shot. The ball just started hopping around. We were finding the open man all night.”

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Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard during pregame warm-ups on opening night. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Speaking of hot, George has been splendid with his 3-point shooting. So far, through the first two games, George has made 14 of 22 of his shots from 3-point range. His reaction? George feels that’s the only shot he can make right now.

“It’s weird because I can’t make nothing else,” George said. “The threes are the only thing that are dropping. In a way, I’m in a rhythm, but I’m not in a rhythm because I can’t find the ball in between the three-point line. It’s great that the long ball’s falling. I’m going to stick with it, continue to keep shooting them. Hopefully, I can find a rhythm throughout my whole game.”

George finished with 28 points for the game. The Clippers as a team shot 53 percent from the field. The Pelicans, on the other hand, couldn’t make a shot this side of a barn, making just 30 percent of their shots from the field.
George said the spacing on the floor has helped create open looks at the basket, not only for himself but for his teammates as well.
“We spread the floor,” George said. “Then there’s so many guys that shoot the ball well that there’s just space. When you got guys that can attack and create naturally, you’re going to come up with some open shots because we’re getting in the paint, we’re moving the ball. Take a look at our guys, outside of our five, everyone else shoots threes at a high level. That’s just the offense you’re going to get. We’re going to have nights like this where we’re dialed in behind the three-point line because we have so many great three-point shooters.”
The free flow that George has been in to shoot the basketball ball and to move around on the court is just a matter of the six-time All-Star being in a good place,” said Leonard.
“I think he’s just feeling healthy,” Leonard said. “You know what I mean? I think that break really helped him. He missed the first 20 games this regular season before the little hiatus. I think he’s just healthy now. He’sfeeling good with that shoulder, being able to bump guys, do crossovers, be able to get his shot off. We know he’s our guy, he’s one of the guys we need to goto to win these basketball games. He’s been making shots, doing great at it.”

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