Last night was a big game for the Los Angeles Clippers as their star player, Paul George finally suited up for the first time this season. George suffered from surgeries in both of his shoulders and has been in recovery since April. In the Clippers loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, 132-127, George took the court and put on a stellar performance. It was as if he had never even left.
Despite the team’s loss, George put up incredible numbers. He ended the game with 33 points, nine rebounds and four assists in just over 24 minutes. He was 10-17 from the field 3-5 from the 3-point and 10-10 on his free throws. Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints reported that, “according to Elias Sports Bureau, no player has ever finished with 30+ points in 25 or fewer minutes in his 1st game with a team before Paul George did tonight.”
Though PG played exceptionally well in his first game back, the small forward was unimpressed by his performance. ClutchPoints revealed George’s comments to the Los Angeles Times.
“I thought I was terrible,” said George, according to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “I got a lot to get back to just from my performance, my defense and just for the flow of the game and then just, I haven’t had any time to get a feel for this speed in a long time. It’s just good to get this one under my belt.”
Paul George’s Season Debut
George came out ready to play as he made his season debut in Thursday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. He picked up fouls early on but that didn’t stop the six-time All Star from playing his best game. Per the Los Angeles Clippers, the points PG racked up last night was marked as the third highest total for a Clippers debut in franchise history.
Though George was highly critical of his performance he did say his shoulders felt great, according to ESPN.
“That’s the best my shoulders have felt in a really long time, so I knew coming into tonight shooting wouldn’t be a problem,” George added. “Just playing basketball is what I’m lacking right now.”
Doc Rivers Voices Opinion on Paul George’s First Game Back
Counteracting, George’s comments, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers had nothing but positive comments regarding the star’s first game back. Per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times, Rivers said in a post game interview that George played, “sensational.”
“He was great. We ran some good stuff for him. What I like about him is just from just one day of coaching him is he’s not only a catch and shoot guy, he’s a dribble guy, he’s a post player. He did all three phases offensively,” Rivers said.
It is likely that Rivers will take it easy with PG as he is just coming back from recovery. He may or may not put him on a similar schedule as Kawhi Leonard and use load management to ensure that he stays healthy. If PG’s debut was just a small preview as to what the rest of the season will look like, fans can expect phenomenal things from him.
Things are looking bright for the small-forward’s future with the L.A. Clippers. As the season goes on, George will likely begin to intensify his workload and increase his minutes on the court. It will be exciting to see what PG-13 has in store for the rest of the season.