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HomeNewsClippers take control of second half to beat Thunder without Paul George

Clippers take control of second half to beat Thunder without Paul George


The image obtained Wednesday of a scan of Paul George’s injured right knee provided as good news as the Clippers could have hoped for: George’s awkward fall Tuesday after grabbing a rebound did not damage any ligaments, and is not expected. that the All-Star forward would need surgery, either.

What isn’t clearer is whether George could be available during the playoffs.

With only three games separating from fourth to 12he in it Western Conference standings Going into Thursday, there’s no guarantee the Clippers… 127-105 winners over Oklahoma City on Thursday, it will advance directly to a seven-game first-round series, or return to the gate tournament. How long the Clippers stay alive matters to any possible return to action.

George currently wears a brace on his injured right knee and uses a crutch while resting for the next two to three weeks, a timeline that will likely result in George missing the remainder of the regular season, which ends on April 9. . After that, the team will reassess his mobility and, if cleared, a acceleration period would begin. Within the team, there is a belief that it might be too optimistic to believe that George could be ready for the first round.

Clippers teammate Terance Mann took the diagnosis as “definitely better than it could have been” after seeing George’s right knee bend backwards.

“Everyone feels better about it,” Mann said, “and knowing that we could potentially get it back is good.”

This was his response without George on Thursday at Crypto.com Arena.

After a stagnant second quarter, the Clippers controlled the second half behind Kawhi Leonard and the stellar contributions from the player bench who will see their responsibilities increase with George out. The Clippers are now 5-2 this season in games Leonard has played in but George has not.

“We were used to playing with one of those guys out, so we know how to play,” coach Tyronn Lue said.

The Clippers outscored the Thunder by 12 points in the third quarter by curbing their turnovers and maximizing their possessions with timely shooting. They held the turn in the fourth quarter as Bones Hyland got his playing time back and Nicolas Batum, who had shot 31% on 3-pointers in his previous nine games, regained his reliable shooting slam. Hyland, who hadn’t played in eight games, and Batum combined to make 8 of 10 3-pointers as the Clippers increased their lead to 25 points with 5 minutes, 52 seconds remaining.

Clippers center Ivica Zubac, left, and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander search for a loose ball during the first half Thursday at Crypto.com Arena.

(Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

George is “a little disappointed as expected, but I think we got the best of what we thought could be,” Lue said. “So getting re-evaluated in two to three weeks is something we look forward to. And then his spirits are down, but that’s to be expected when it’s late in the season and when you want to help your team.”

Hyland shone as part of the backcourts with Russell Westbrook and Terance Mann, and Mann and Leonard, filling a role that could pass to Norman Powell once he returns from a shoulder injury.

Life without George will also require the Clippers’ reworked starting lineup, which includes guard Eric Gordon in George’s place, to find its footing, and quickly.

By halftime, the starters had combined for eight of the team’s nine turnovers and eight of their 18 rebounds. Leonard’s perfect 7-of-7 shooting for 15 points in the first quarter fueled the Clippers’ offense, but he didn’t attempt a shot in seven minutes of the second quarter. On offense, the Clippers were 8.8 better points per 100 possessions with George on the floor than they were this season, the biggest disparity on the team.

And that means, of course, the workload in George’s absence will increase especially for Leonard, who added 15 more points during a vital third-quarter turnaround.

At a time when every game is critical for the Clippers to avoid falling into the play-in tournament between seeds seven to 10, there are still two sets of games played on consecutive days, which means two games in which the Clippers they could also be without Leonard. . In his first season since recovering from a torn knee ligament in 2021, Leonard has yet to play on consecutive days.

“We need (Leonard) to be in attack mode all night, not be able to come into games and then create the right spot for other guys to take shots,” Lue said. “But now he will have a lot more pressure to protect the best players because PG took it upon himself to protect the best player to start the games.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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