Paul George Led Clippers For Play-In Tournament After Defeated Kings
April 11, 2022
In front of 17,568 fans at Crypto.com Arena, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated Sacramento Kings 117-98, thanks to a magnificent performance by Paul George. Although it was his eight-rebound in fifth game back after an elbow injury that cost him three months, George nailed 23 points and 12 assists, leading the Clippers to shoot a spot for the play-in tournament.
If they can beat Oklahoma City on Sunday, the Clippers (41-40) will extend their winning season streak to 11 straight. Three of the Clippers' four leading scorers, George, Marcus Morris Sr., and Norman Powell, however, will be resting and will not play in Sunday's regular-season finale.
“The elbow’s fine. It feels pretty good," George said. "Overall, I'm trying to take each possession for what it is and trying to make the best play possible.
“Honestly, I love settling for the role of being the playmaker instead of a scorer. With this team my ability to score is opening up passing and playmaking. It's easier when I can find guys to make baskets.”
On Saturday, he had only four turnovers in the entire game, all of which occurred in the second half, with the first being a result of an aggressive penalty. That total comprises several spectacular passes, including his over-the-head hookup with Ivica Zubac and his cross-court through-defenders dish to Luke Kennard for a 3-pointer in the second quarter.
Foreseeing the play-in
The play-in game between the Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves will take place on Tuesday. Los Angeles would advance to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year if they beat the second-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.
“Defensively we did a lot of good things, and we were able to try some things with the second unit that should help us going forward,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “We had been trying to get Paul up to 35-36 minutes so we can push his minutes for the play-in tournament."
With a loss to the Timberwolves, the Clippers would be forced to play either New Orleans or San Antonio in the second round of the playoffs on Friday. The top-seeded Phoenix Suns would be on the line if the game ended in a tie.
“We know them well, they know us well, it’ll be a tough game going into Minnesota," George said. "We have a job to do. I'm looking forward to leading and being in that environment.”
Lue also hailed George, saying that he was the playmaker for the Clippers' third game in a row with at least 20 3-pointers made.
“I just think him being aggressive getting to the basket, I think playing pick and roll, making the right pass, making the right plays has definitely opened things up for us,” said Lue.
“And so, when you got a guy like PG on the floor, teams are gonna gravitate toward him, two and three guys are gonna be aware of where he is on the floor at all times and it’s up to him to make the right plays and right passes, and he’s been doing that.”