Waiting for Paul George: Takeaways from Clippers’ loss to Kings

Clippers guard Paul George passes the ball.
A sore foot kept Clippers guard Paul George out of Sunday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Five takeaways from the Clippers’ 113-110 loss Sunday to Sacramento, the first time they have lost consecutive games this season:

1. Swelling in the bone of a toe on Paul George’s right foot knocked the Clippers guard out for a second game, an injury coach Tyronn Lue would “take some time for the swelling to go down … it’s going to be a day-to-day situation.”

George is one of only five players to shoot at least 50% on field goals, 40% on three-pointers and 90% on free throws while playing at least 10 minutes per game this season.


“He’s a little disappointed, you know, because … especially the way he’s been playing and the things he’s been doing for this team, but it is what happens,” Lue said. “We have to have a next man up mentality, just got to hold the fort down till he gets back.”

Guard Reggie Jackson described the conversations he has had with George, one of his closest friends, as “very positive.”

The Clippers have a reputation for strong third quarters, but a second-half surge never materialized in their 113-110 loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Feb. 7, 2021

“Other than not being on the court I don’t think you would know by his spirit that he was out,” Jackson said. “He might have took it a little tough the first day when we got the news but after that he’s been great, like honestly, his energy has been amazing.”

2. Patrick Beverley missed his eighth consecutive game with an injured knee. However, he worked out before the game on the court and the team sees that as encouraging.

After missing his eighth consecutive game because of an injured right knee, Beverley is “feeling a little bit better,” Lue said. “He’s been able to get on the court and do some work and he’s taken pretty good to it.”


3. How much are Beverley and George missed? The numbers say it all.

When George plays, the Clippers are scoring 120.7 points per 100 possessions. When he’s off, it dips to 109.7. Among the team’s starters, only Kawhi Leonard’s absence has produced a larger offensive dip.

Defensively, the Clippers have allowed 101.7 points per 100 possessions with Beverley on the floor. Without? It spikes to 112.1. That difference is more than double the defensive slippage felt when any other starter sits. Why that matters: The Clippers are scheduled to face a number guards in the next week with high-scoring potential. In order, they could see: Minnesota’s D’Angelo Russell, Chicago’s Zach LaVine and Coby White, Cleveland’s Collin Sexton and Darius Garland and Miami’s Jimmy Butler.

Highlights from the Clippers’ 113-110 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

4. The Clippers are now 5-7 in “clutch” situations.

Their 29 total minutes when either leading or trailing by five points or fewer in the final five minutes is fourth-fewest in the league and speaks to how lopsided many of the Clippers’ games have been this season. But their .417 clutch winning percentage — which ranks 20th in the league — also reflects their league-worst minus-28.3 net rating in such scenarios. It’s not because of careless turnovers, a factor that has often caused the Clippers trouble; indeed, the Clippers have a miniscule turnover percentage. But their shooting has dipped (38%) and they’ve posted a staggering defensive rating of 134.3 in the clutch.

On Sunday, the Clippers made three of their nine field goals in the final five minutes, while Sacramento made five of its 11.

5. Some good, some bad

A mixture of smaller takeaways from Sunday, starting with the encouraging:

Ivica Zubac (12 points, 14 rebounds) once again earned his spot as the team’s closing center. He played virtually the entire final 15 minutes. “With Serge [Ibaka], as far as just having to try to come in and get loose the last four minutes of the game,” Lue said. “I didn’t think was fair and I thought Zu was doing a good job.”


Terance Mann (six points, six rebounds, three assists) has played with confidence off the bench and is getting to the rim with a mixture of finishes.

Kawhi Leonard criticized the decision to hold the All-Star game, saying he isn’t surprised the NBA is planning to play the game amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Feb. 6, 2021

After taking three shots of questionable selection and missing each soon after checking in, Marcus Morris settled in and made his next three shots.

Lue said cutting down on turnovers was a priority after committing 32 combined in the previous two games, and his team responded with just 10, which the Kings turned into only seven points.

But also:

Though the Clippers scored 50 points in the paint, only the seventh time they’ve scored at least that many this season, the number was deceiving because they shot only 47% there, including making just 11 of their first 32 shots in the paint.

Nicolas Batum’s remarkably consistent shooting early on is trending toward more boom-or-bust. In his first 16 games he scored in double-figures nine times and made more than 40% of his three-pointers 11 times. In the eight games since, he’s done each three times.