The Los Angeles Clippers are currently the hottest team in the NBA right now, winning nine of their last 10. Just three games behind the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference, things are gelling and starting to come together at just the right time for L.A.
The addition of Rajon Rondo has given the Clips a jolt, as has the signing of veteran big man DeMarcus Cousins, who has been filling in for an injured Serge Ibaka. Cousins fought his way back from Achilles and ACL injuries in recent years, and the four-time NBA All Star has been looking to find his niche with the right team after getting released by the Houston Rockets in February. Cousins has played in just seven games with the Clippers, and has averaged 10.3 minutes, 3.0 rebounds and 5.5 points a game, but it’s the effect he seems to be having on other players that stands out.
In the seven games since Cousins’ arrival, Paul George has scored 32+ points in six of the seven, and the Clips have gone 6-1 in that span. After L.A.’s most recent win over the Portland Trail Blazers, George had some pretty telling comments about what Boogie has brought to the team.
George on Cousins: ‘He’s Instant Offense for Us’
“We’re getting flashes of vintage Boogie,” George said about Cousins after the win, per Andrew Greif. “What will be most impressive about his game is that he automatically draws double teams. He’s instant offense for us, dump the ball down there for him and he’s a playmaker,” George added.
Cousins hasn’t exactly logged a ton of playing time, but his teammates seem to respond well to his presence, and that’s huge.
“He’s an All-Star, he’s still one of the most skilled bigs in the league,” George said about Cousins after the Clips signed him to his first 10-day contract earlier this month. “He can finish, he rebounds, I thought you saw a little bit of everything from him tonight, and he showed he’s still got a lot left to give. He can really play at a high level still.”
The respect between George and Cousins is mutual. “PG’s cool as a fan,” Cousins said after the Clippers’ win over Portland Tuesday, via Sports Illustrated. “He leads by example, he comes in, he works every single day. Every night he steps on the floor, you’re gonna get an A-plus effort. One of the most talented players I’ve ever seen lace them up. We gotta stop the PG slander. It just won’t be accepted around me.”
Next Up for George? He Wants His First Ring
George is averaging 23.8 points on the season, but he’s scoring 30.8 over his last 10 games, and he’s playing like a man on a mission. After handling the Trail Blaizers, he revealed what that mission may be: He wants to win his first championship — and he wants the Clippers to get their first ring as a franchise.
“It means everything,” George said. “Just to be remembered with this special group. To be the first to bring a championship with the Clippers, this is an amazing locker room and amazing group.”
The team may very well have to choose between Cousins and Malik Fitts, both of whom signed on to short-term deals. Yogi Ferrell is another player currently on a 10-day contract, so it will be interesting to see which way the Clippers go.
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