Here we go again. The Los Angeles Clippers have fallen behind in yet another playoff series, this time to the Phoenix Suns. The Clippers have managed to go down 0-2 in each of their first two playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz — but they have also come back to win them both.
Leaning heavily on his supporting cast, head coach Ty Lue has had to game plan without his team’s best player.
After Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard went down with a knee injury suffered toward the end of Game 4 in the Clips’ Western Conference semifinal series against the Jazz, Lue has had to string together his lineup — and he has relied more on forward Paul George than he initially planned. George is averaging 40 minutes a game so far against the Suns, and he hasn’t been able to sit much in Leonard’s absence. Now, after L.A.’s Game 2 loss, Lue has expressed concern about the fatigue level of PG.
Lue on PG: ‘He Looked Pretty Tired’
The Clippers nearly pulled Game 2 against Phoenix out, ultimately losing 104-103. They had their chances, though. George missed two free throws in a row when the Clippers had a one-point lead with just 8 seconds remaining, and despite finishing strong, scoring 10 of his 26 points in the 4th quarter, the Clips really could have used those two from the charity stripe.
“He’s alright. It’s part of the game. It happens. It’s not his fault,” Lue said about George missing the free throws. “Without him we wouldn’t be in the game anyway. Made some big plays down the down the stretch and like I said, they made a big play at the end to win the game.”
The Clippers coach was then asked if he was concerned about the minutes George was playing — and will likely continue to play — with Leonard out.
“Yeah, he looked pretty tired tonight,” Lue said. “You know, whenever he’s taking a lot of jumpshots and not really attacking, you can see he’s a little tired. But he want to win and he said, “Coach, whatever you need, I’m ready to do it. We needed him tonight, every bit of him. Like I said, we get a day off tomorrow, come back Thursday, or Wednesday, whatever day, and be ready to play.”
PG: ‘I Have No Feelings Towards That’
When asked how he felt about his minutes, George said what you’d expect him to say. “I have no feelings towards that,” George said. “I have no feelings towards that, you know what I mean? It’s playoff basketball. It’s whatever it takes. If I have to do more, I’ll do it. It’s whatever it takes to win, and I have no feelings towards whatever minutes I’m playing on the court.”
The Clippers forward says his primary focus is finding a way to dig out of the 0-2 hole his team is in. Again.
“We’ve got to find a way to fight our way back into the series. That’s just what it comes down to. It’s no secret. It’s no science to it. We just have to find a way, play ourselves back into this series, tie it up, no difference. We know we’ve got to win here at some point. And again, we’ve just got to trust that,” he said, adding:
“This one does hurt because we knew we had to steal one. This was a great chance to do it. But, you know, we’ve got to look forward. There’s a reason why it’s a series, the long series we’re expecting and just got to get ready for the next one.”