Clippers’ Paul George sits out against Celtics because of foot injury
Only two days removed from scoring 36 points, making eight of nine three-pointers with no turnovers during a victory in Cleveland, George was ruled out two hours before tipoff because of swelling in the bone of a toe on his right foot. It’s the second game George has missed this season because of an injury. He also missed two games last week after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
The injury costs the Clippers one of their most dynamic playmakers. George is averaging 24.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and career highs of 5.5 assists and a 62% effective field-goal percentage, which accounts for both three-point and two-point shots. This week the NBA announced that early All-Star game voting returns showed that George had received the fifth-most votes among Western Conference frontcourt players.
After concluding a six-game road trip with a 4-2 record, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue says the team still had plenty to work on upon returning to L.A.
“We’re going to miss him,” Lue said before tip-off.
Before this season Lue challenged George and Kawhi Leonard, the team’s leading scorers, to create more plays for teammates by using their gravity to find open shots, and each has responded by creating assists on a higher percentage of possessions than ever. George’s 26% assist ratio is five points higher than his previous career high.
“They’ve always had the ability to play-make, both of them,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said last week. “They make each other and others better. I think that there is a real level of trust with them right now because their teammates are shooting the ball so well and the pieces are fitting together, so they are doubling down a little bit on their playmaking whereas maybe in prior years they would lean into the scoring a little bit more.”
Losing George for an indefinite number of games adds an extra playmaking burden to a roster whose lack of a so-called pure point guard has been considered its weakness despite a 17-6 start to the season. Starting guard Patrick Beverley missed his seventh consecutive game Wednesday because of an injured right knee.
The Clippers started backup guard Luke Kennard in George’s place against the Celtics and George’s workload would need to be shouldered primarily by reserve Lou Williams and Reggie Jackson, who has started in Beverley’s place, Lue said.
“Those are the two guys that we can run pick-and-roll and run plays through, along with Luke Kennard, being able to make plays for each other as well,” Lue said. “We’ve got to do it by committee.”
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