Paul George’s minutes restriction possibly cost Clippers a win vs. Nets

Clippers forward Paul George pleads with referee Tre Maddox.
Clippers forward Paul George pleads with referee Tre Maddox for a foul call against the Nets on Sunday evening at Staples Center.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

When Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said abiding by Paul George’s minutes restriction and sitting him for the end of the fourth quarter Sunday was the right call, he was taking the long view.

In the short term, however, the decision kept George, who had scored 12 of his team-high 34 points during the fourth quarter, off the court for the final 2 minutes 50 seconds of a 112-108 loss to Brooklyn.

George scored seven points in the two minutes before being pulled, having clocked 33 minutes.


Lue appeared frustrated while confirming that a minutes restriction had led to the decision to remove George, who was playing his second game in three days since returning from a toe injury that cost him his previous seven games.

“He played good to get us back in it, and then it’s a tough decision,” Lue said. “The biggest thing is the player’s health. We did what we could but it is what it is.”

Asked how difficult it was to watch at the end, George replied, “I think you know the answer to that.”

Highlights from the Clippers’ 112-108 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

George, who also finished with seven assists, six rebounds and six turnovers, played the entire fourth quarter before being pulled because facing a 10-point Brooklyn lead entering the final quarter, Lue felt the team needed his scoring to get back in the game while teammate Kawhi Leonard caught his breath. The Clippers trailed by six when he checked out and reached a tie with 28 seconds to play before a tip-in by Nets center DeAndre Jordan and an offensive foul call decided the game.

“PG did what PG does,” center Ivica Zubac said. “He is an All-Star player. He is a great two-way player. He did exactly what we expect him to do.”


In a victory against Western Conference-leading Utah two days earlier, George’s first game in more than two weeks, he played 27 minutes and said his conditioning wasn’t where it needed to be to play much longer than that; he has averaged 34 minutes per game this season. Sunday, however, he called himself “good to go” and any lingering pain “an afterthought.”

“I was ready to go,” George said. “I wanted to keep going.”

He later added he did not know how long he would need to play under a minutes restriction.