Paul George scores 36 as Clippers beat Pacers to extend win streak to six games
Late in the fourth quarter of the Clippers’ 126-115 victory Tuesday, cameras inside Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse caught sidelined star Kawhi Leonard studying a box score.
Amid another win in which the Clippers again flexed the might of an offense on track to smash NBA records, it was hard to know which number to focus on.
In his fourth consecutive game with at least 30 points, Paul George scored 36, grabbed seven rebounds and, combined with his eight assists that led to 18 points, the All-Star accounted for 42% of his team’s offense.
There were reserve forward Nicolas Batum’s career-high-tying five blocks, one game after he’d blocked three against Detroit, and his swats of layups and long jumpers led teammates to nickname him “Nic Gobert” afterward, coach Tyronn Lue said with a laugh.
There were 34 assists, the first time since 2014 the Clippers have produced three consecutive games with at least 30 assists.
There were also the 23 fast-break points given up to Indiana, the NBA’s leader in that category — and the way they were neutralized by the 22 by the Clippers.
It all led to the biggest number: six straight wins, and a 1-0 start to a three-game trip.
Paul George scored 32 points in a win Sunday, his third consecutive game with at least 30. It helped earn him Western Conference player of the week.
After making 13 of their 28 three-pointers against Indianapolis, including seven of 11 from the corners, the Clippers have made a league-leading 48% of their three-pointers during this streak. They have made 42.1% of their three-pointers this season, just behind Charlotte’s 24-year-old record for three-point accuracy. Even in a season where offensive numbers have ballooned across the league, the Clippers are scoring a league-leading 117.6 points per 100 possessions and on pace to smash Dallas’ record of 115.9 set last season.
Marcus Morris added 22 points to help the Clippers turn a three-point lead after three quarters into a double-digit lead just two minutes into the fourth.
Indiana never truly threatened again.
For all the box score showed, Lue viewed it as a single chapter in a longer story of the team’s progress during the last five months, and its renewed commitment since the All-Star break to share the ball more often and focus more intently on defense.
“I think our guys are really bought in,” Lue said, “and I think they understand what we’re looking for now on a night-to-night basis.”
Their league-leading 14-4 record since the All-Star break “started inside the locker room with us just being real with each other and just focusing on the things that we can get better at,” Morris said.
For George, that meant a realization that he had allowed the lingering pain caused by a bone bruise on his right foot to “make an excuse for myself.”
“If I’m going to play, then, you know, don’t let it limit me,” said George, who has made 55% of his shots and 60% of his three-pointers in his last four games. “It’s just been paying off. I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough because of that mindset and I’ve been good.”
Morris said he had seen George “just making an emphasis of taking over and being the best version of himself.”
That version allowed the Clippers to clinch their 20th win in 22 games this season when leading after three quarters despite the absence of Leonard for a second consecutive game.
His sore right foot is a “day-to-day situation,” said Lue, who expects the team will be selective in finding games for their key contributors to rest during the regular season’s final five weeks.
Leonard “is on the trip, so that’s a good sign,” Lue said. “Hopefully we get him back sooner rather than later.”
Three takeaways on the Clippers
- Marcus Morris’ third-quarter contributions were overshadowed but important: By scoring nine points and playing all 12 minutes, he kept the Clippers’ offense afloat while allowing Paul George to rest for three minutes.
- The Clippers separated themselves through their ability to limit Indiana to only two second-chance points, a season-low for the Pacers and 10 fewer than their season average.
- Coach Tyronn Lue credited Rajon Rondo’s addition to the team’s bench unit as a significant boost, especially his pairing alongside George. After Rondo’s five rebounds, five assists and four points against Indiana, the team is outscoring opponents by 8.8 points in the 14 minutes per game he has played alongside George.
When: 5 P.M. PDT Wednesday
On the air: TV: Bally Sports; Radio: 570, 1330
Update: The Clippers finish their two-game season series with the Pistons three days after beating them 131-124 at Staples Center. The Pistons (16-38) are 3-6 at home against teams from the Western Conference.
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