In the midst of a heated battle between two of the league’s best and most star-studded teams, with the Clippers trailing by just six points in a game that earlier seemed out of reach, Clippers star Paul George was pulled from the court with just under three minutes to go in regulation. The Brooklyn Nets would go on to win the game by four points in controversial fashion, and George would go on to take his frustration out on some innocent team equipment as he headed to the locker room after the loss.
Sunday’s game was just George’s second game back since being sidelined with a bone edema in one of his right toes, an injury that caused him to miss seven straight games. In his return on Friday against the Utah Jazz, George was put on a minutes restriction and capped at 27 minutes. George acknowledged after said game that he was still ramping up his conditioning after his extended absence.
“I would have to be honest with myself, I wasn’t ready to play 30-plus [minutes] today,” George said postgame when asked about his minutes restriction. “Just got to get back to that basketball conditioning and get that wind back to where it was. As much as I would’ve loved to play, I probably would’ve hurt the team being on the floor past the minutes I played tonight.”
As it turned out, George was on a minutes restriction on Sunday night as well—33 to be exact. That limit came with 2:50 to go in the game, as the Clippers trailed 105-99. LA would go on to tie the game in his absence, and could have potentially stolen the game were it not for a controversial offensive foul call on Kawhi Leonard.
According to Head Coach Tyronn Lue, it sounds as though George might’ve already played past his minutes limit before he was eventually subbed out.
During George’s postgame press conference, his frustration with the minutes restriction was still palpable.
When asked how much longer this minutes restriction will last, George responded bluntly:
In the grand scheme of things, his coach probably made the right call. Despite the game being a nationally televised Sunday evening event that pitted two title contenders against each other, it was ultimately still a regular-season game in February. If George had somehow re-aggravated his injury or taxed his body too much, the Clippers could’ve lost George for another extended period.
George has talked about feeling truly healthy for the first time in years this season. He had shoulder surgery during the 2019 offseason, and cited the surgery as a reason why he struggled at times last year. He’s been sensational so far this year in the games he’s played. If he can enter the postseason unbothered by nagging injuries, the Clippers are going to be a tough out.
When asked if his toe could become reinflamed or otherwise cause him to miss more games in the future, George made it clear that he was fine.
The Clippers will play the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Hopefully, if the game ends up being a tight one, George will be on the court ready to close things out.