LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Clippers received a huge boost to their lineup with star player Paul George returning. George made his long-awaited return from an elbow injury on March 29 against the Utah Jazz.
With the injury keeping George out for nearly three months, this past week’s string of games has seen George trying to find his rhythm.
“I mean, I just know what it takes,” said George. “I know what it takes, the dedication, the commitment. It’s more than just on the court; it’s off the court. And so, I’ve been here before, so I know how to attack a rehab.”
After a sensational return game against the Jazz that saw George score 34 points, his scoring performance has dropped each following game. The game against Utah saw George play like the perennial All-Star that he is in the Clippers’ 121-115 comeback victory.
“Felt good,” George said at that time. “Honestly, I was well prepared coming into tonight. I shouted out the guys that were working with me when those guys were playing games and those guys were on the road. You know, I was at Honey Training Center grinding trying to get back and get back healthy and get in shape. The crew that was there with me really pushed me and one person I didn’t shout out was [Brian Shaw], [Brian Shaw] really whipped me into shape and it just got me prepared to play.”
In the following games he appeared in against the Chicago Bulls (22 points) and the New Orleans Pelicans, George looked like he was still finding his flow and shooting rhythm.
Against the Pelicans, George played well across the board, displaying his well-documented multi-faceted game. George wound up with 15 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds in the Clippers’ 119-100 win. Afterward, he talked about what he needed to do to get ready for the postseason.
“I think just the intensity, the mindset, and just the mentality I think going into games, start the games off right,” said George. “Right now, the mentality is trying to get a rhythm. You know, of course, win these games, do what I have to do to win. But it’s more so getting rhythm getting timing. I really haven’t played basketball in three months. It’s a lot that I still need to come to.”
Two games after his return, George’s shooting touch has been off a bit. Connecting on only 5 out of 15 field-goal attempts on the night. All of his made baskets came from the three-point line. Despite not connecting on most of his attempts, his scoring power was not needed. After the first quarter, the Clippers dominated the Pelicans the whole way. It was his playmaking ability in the first half that really elevated the level of the Clippers’ offense.
With the dominance the Clippers showed against the Pelicans, George was able to get some early rest. The Clippers were able to rest the star wing for the entire fourth quarter.
The Pelicans made a run that could have cut the lead into a potential danger zone, but the Clippers held on to the lead to win the game. Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue suggested that George may have been possibly fatigued in the Pelicans game.
“Continue to increase his minutes, keep trying to get him in rhythm and put the ball in his hands so he can make plays. Tonight, I think he looked a little fatigued to me… we just have to continue to build his minutes slowly.” Lue said.
With the Pelicans being a potential play-in tournament matchup, the Clippers being able to handle them with ease, despite the struggle of George is a positive. So far, George’s presence is helping the Clippers as they gear up to make the playoffs.
As they wind down the regular season with some big wins, including a 113-109 home win against the Phoenix Suns, the Clippers have thrived since George came back. The Clippers have lost only one game. And that one loss was in overtime (135-130) on the road against the Chicago Bulls.
“I challenged the team in my first game back. To start shaping into more of a playoff team, and I think we have been doing that.” George said.
The No. 8 team in the Western Conference playoffs, the Clippers will need George to be the superstar player that he is. Finding his shooting rhythm and flow of the game is critical for their postseason run.
With George missing three months of the season, his absence required other players to step up for the Clippers. Now that he’s back with the team, this is going to cause other players to adjust, but that’s a good thing.
“I think we’re starting to play our best basketball right now,” George said after scoring 19 points in the Clippers’ win against the Suns at Crypto.com. “We’ve been doing a really good job on both ends. But I think more than anything, we just have a good feel going towards these last couple games of what we want to accomplish.”
Featured Image: June 14, 2021-Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers goes in for two points against the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of the team’s best-of-seven NBA semifinal playoff series. Photo by MArk Hammond/News4usonline