The Clippers may’ve felt déjà vu as they had been on the verge of blowing one other large lead. However Paul George made certain the Clippers did not endure a bubble relapse and one more epic collapse.
A red-hot George buried 10 of 12 photographs, together with 4 3-pointers, and scored 26 of his 33 factors within the second half to open the Ty Lue period with a 116-109 victory to dampen the Lakers’ celebration at Staples Heart on Tuesday evening.
Whereas this opening evening win does not exorcise any of the demons from the Clippers’ 3-1 collapse within the second spherical of the playoffs to the Denver Nuggets, George helped the Clippers win this recreation in a way that helps wash away a number of the bitter style left of their mouths from the bubble.
When the Lakers pulled to inside 77-76 within the third quarter, George outscored the Lakers 10-2 to push the result in 89-78 getting into the fourth. Lue was requested what he noticed from his guard within the second half.
“That he is unstoppable,” Lue mentioned.
When George was final seen in Recreation 7 within the bubble in Orlando, Florida, the capturing guard missed 12 of 16 photographs, scored 10 factors and shot a 3-pointer off the facet of the backboard in what turned the futile image of the Clippers’ catastrophic playoff wrestle.
However getting into this season, George vowed he would look extra just like the participant who completed third in MVP voting throughout the 2018-19 season in Oklahoma Metropolis. He mentioned he was lastly wholesome after present process surgical procedures on his shoulders final offseason and that he was capable of prepare once more earlier than this season.
“I’ve utilized the work that I put on this offseason,” George mentioned after the win. “It is not gonna be fairly each evening. Tonight I bought it going and was capable of present up large time for my crew.”
After the Clippers’ playoff collapse, crew proprietor Steve Ballmer opted to not run it again with the identical roster and changed Doc Rivers with Lue as coach. The Clippers additionally misplaced Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green in free company however signed Serge Ibaka, who had 15 factors and 6 rebounds in his debut.
However as large as Ibaka’s perimeter capturing was, the Clippers hope the veteran’s presence and Lue’s capability to carry stars accountable improves the locker room chemistry. The Clippers’ lack of chemistry was an enormous issue of their postseason downfall, and George addressed discuss concerning the Clippers’ points over preferential remedy given to the Clippers’ star duo of Kawhi Leonard and himself.
“The dudes that put it within the work, that constructed themselves as much as be the place they’re at, it is a motive they get to that stage,” George mentioned when requested about preferential remedy being a problem throughout an interview on TNT’s Contained in the NBA. “They know what they want and so they know what makes them play at a excessive stage.
“Whoever that offends, you recognize, we ain’t have that problem proper now on this locker room.”
Leonard cautioned that the Clippers have an extended approach to go this season. However he favored the poise he noticed from his teammates as one more large lead evaporated.
“We’re not fascinated about final yr,” mentioned Leonard, who scored 26 factors. “It is a totally different crew. I’m simply pleased that we saved enjoying basketball the correct method just about. Even when we misplaced the sport, the lead, we circled, we stayed constructive, we saved enjoying our basketball just about. We ran our offense. And that’s what I take satisfaction in tonight, that everybody had one another’s again and talking constructive and we saved speaking on the ground and pushed out a win.”
Leonard additionally mentioned he thought George’s management should not be outlined by his postseason struggles final season.
“Final yr within the playoffs when he was lacking photographs, he was nonetheless speaking, speaking, enjoying the correct method, enjoying protection,” Leonard mentioned. “They simply did not fall for him. And tonight, his photographs fell however clearly he’s making my job simpler by speaking to folks, giving directions on missed assignments or if we’re not working the performs proper.”