Paul George missed the Los Angeles Clippers‘ first 11 games of the season as he finished up rehabbing from double shoulder surgery in the offseason, but he’s back in action now and . He scored 30-plus points in each of his first two games with the club, becoming the first Clipper to achieve that feat, and his 37 points in 20 minutes on Saturday night were a franchise record for a home debut.
Late Monday night, he kept up his strong start by saving the day with a game-winning 3-pointer to lift the Clippers over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He wasn’t as spectacular as he was in his first two games, but he came up big when it mattered to get the Clippers a 90-88 win to improve their record to 9-5 on the season. In 29 minutes, he went 7-of-14 from the field for 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists, though he also turned the ball over seven times. No one will remember the latter mark, however, thanks to his heroics in the closing seconds.
With just over 30 seconds remaining, the Thunder held a slim two-point lead in what had been a defensive-minded, and at times extremely sloppy affair. The Clippers took the ball out of bounds on the sideline and Lou Williams popped open to take the pass. As that was happening, they ran a number of screens off the ball, which culminated in George curling off a pin-down from Montrezl Harrell. Williams hit him with the pass in stride, and George lifted straight into his shot, which settled into the net to give the Clips the lead.
There were still 25 seconds left to play, and the Thunder had a chance to win but couldn’t succeed, thanks in large part to a successful challenge by Doc Rivers. After Shai Gilgeous-Alexander missed a 3, Danilo Gallinari grabbed an offensive rebound and tried to drive inside. The refs whistled for a foul, but it was clear there was no contact, so the foul was wiped away and Gallinari did not head to the line for free throws.
Another miss ensued for the Thunder, and after George hit one of two academic free throws with 0.3 seconds left, the Clippers had their second straight win.
The only downside on the night from the Clippers’ perspective is that Kawhi Leonard because of a bruised knee, which means we still haven’t seen Leonard and George on the floor together. The good news is that Leonard’s injury doesn’t seem serious, so it shouldn’t be long until we see the full version of the new-look Clippers.