In the most consequential game of the LA Clippers’ season thus far, Paul George gave a historic, heroic performance to lead LA to a 119-111 victory over the Utah Jazz and put his team up 3-2 in the Conference Semifinals.
Without All-NBA First-Teamer Kawhi Leonard, who the team announced Wednesday morning would be out indefinitely with a knee injury (the severity of the injury is still unclear), the burden fell on George to carry the load and overcome the Jazz’s stifling defense.
George did just that, dropping 37 points, 16 rebounds and five assists on 12-22 shooting. He was spectacular, hitting tough mid range jumpers, drawing contact at the rim (10-11 from the free throw line) and battling Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert for rebounds in the paint. He's the first Clipper in franchise history to put up 35+ points, 15+ rebounds and five assists in a playoff game, and he joins Kevin Durant as the only other player to put up such a statline this postseason. George answered the call and then some, and his team is now one win away from advancing to their first Conference Finals in franchise history.
“I thought this was our toughest matchup this postseason,” George said during his postgame interview with TNT. “This was the biggest game of our season. Especially being down our best player. We wish kawhi the best and a speedy recovery, but we knew coming into this, we’d have to play together. We had to step up.”
Head Coach Tyronn Lue said George was locked in and mentally preparing for this performance all day. Lue remembers George approaching him during Wednesday morning’s shootaround and giving him a few words of security amid the panic of Leonard’s injury.
“T, I got you,” George said simply.
Indeed he did. LA will now get a chance to close out the series in Staples Center. Game 6 tips off on Friday at 7 p.m.