Paul George’s jumper lifts Clippers over Rockets, ends skid

Tyronn Lue eased to his seat, plopped right down to do his pregame information convention earlier than Monday evening’s sport in opposition to the Houston Rockets and smiled. Earlier than taking any questions, the Clippers coach supplied this:

“Starters tonight — Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Paul George, Marcus Morris [Sr.] and [Ivica] Zubac,” Lue mentioned.

There was a fast pause, permitting Lue to reply the query of why he made the change earlier than it was even requested.

“Because I wanted to,” Lue mentioned, laughing.

Why?

“I just wanted to do something a little different,” Lue mentioned.

It labored out for Lue and the Clippers as a result of Paul George wouldn’t have it some other manner, his fingerprints throughout their 95-93 win over the Rockets at Crypto.com Area.

His 35 factors, 9 rebounds, eight assists and 6 steals informed simply a part of the story of George serving to the Clippers finish a four-game dropping streak. He grew to become simply the eighth participant in NBA historical past produce these numbers in a sport.

“I take full responsibility for us and our record right now,” George mentioned after the Clippers improved to 3-4 this season. “Not getting off to the start, having the starts that we have so far. Regardless, like I’ve been saying, regardless of who is in the lineup, who’s not, I’m more than capable of going out and performing and willing our team to wins. So, I took a lot of … I took a lot on the chin for myself for the way that we’ve been playing and for the starts that we’ve had so far.”

George got here up clutch when the Clippers wanted him probably the most, drilling a three-pointer to tie the rating at 93 with 39.4 seconds left, stealing the ball from Eric Gordon with 29.3 seconds remaining after which drilling a 15-foot jumper with 6.2 seconds left for the ultimate rating.

However the sport wasn’t over till Gordon missed a driving layup try with Nicolas Batum enjoying robust protection on the Rockets guard.

Clippers ahead Norman Powell (24) shoots in opposition to Houston Rockets ahead Usman Garuba (16) at Crytpo.com Area on Monday evening.

(Ashley Landis / Related Press)

George had assist from middle Zubac, who had 16 factors, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks.

And twice Zubac and George connected within the fourth quarter, with Zubac rolling to the basket and George discovering him for a dunk to drag the Clippers to inside 90-88 and one other time to drag them to inside 93-90.

“I know it’s early, but these are the games we have to really lock in on,” George mentioned. “Yeah, again, it’s just about as long as we start building and start playing towards the right way, then you got to live with the results. But definitely losing four, this was one that we should have went out and got.”

Lue was reminded of his postgame feedback after Sunday’s loss wherein he mentioned if issues didn’t change, he may contemplate doing one thing completely different.

So, Lue was requested, did he speed up this variation by beginning Kennard for the primary time this season instead of Norman Powell, who had began 5 of the Clippers’ first six video games?

“Yessir,” Lue responded.

A four-game dropping streak, maybe, performed a component in Lue’s resolution. Or perhaps it was poor execution or simply poor play by his group.

Both manner, Lue mentioned the Clippers wanted a spark.

However his staff was additionally short-handed once more in opposition to the Rockets.

Kawhi Leonard didn’t play due to proper knee administration. He has missed 5 of the primary seven video games with knee points and received’t be a part of the Clippers on their upcoming two-game journey that begins with a return date with the Rockets in Houston on Wednesday evening after which a sport at San Antonio on Friday evening.

Meaning Leonard will miss seven of the primary 9 Clippers video games.

“He’s frustrated,” Lue mentioned. “He wants to be out on the floor … and then now he can’t travel. He wants to travel, but the doctor said it’s not the right thing to do right now with the stiffness and what he is going through. Just frustrated after putting all the work the last 15 months and to get to this point and not being where he wants to be physically, but he is getting better.”