Clippers vs Jazz: Paul George continues to shed unfair “Pandemic P” label with brilliant Game 3 performance
Pandemic P. Way-off P. Dismissal P. We’re all guilty of giving a warm chuckle to the derogatory nicknames that inevitably pop up on NBA Twitter whenever Paul George suffers a bad pass in a playoff game.
The tarnished reputation is largely undeserved for a guy averaging over 20 points per game during his playoff career, but a tough performance in Game 7 of the Clippers’ epic collapse against the Denver Nuggets of the year. last in the bubble – including a pulled to the side of the panel heard around the world – unfairly called George a suffocating artist.
So there has to be an extra bit of satisfaction for George when he puts on a show like he did in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 132-106 win in Game 3 over the Utah Jazz on Saturday which saved them. of a 0-3 series hole. and the incessant chatter that would have followed. George was nothing short of phenomenal, scoring 31 points on a 3-point 6-for-10 shot while handing out five assists and often looking like the top player on a field he shared with Kawhi Leonard and Donovan Mitchell.
George clearly came out with a goalscoring mentality, taking 24 shots – the most he’s ever attempted in a playoff game as Clipper.
“I think I just pulled my shots, you know, to get the shots I’m most comfortable with and stuck with,” George said after the win. “It’s just putting the pressure on whether I’m shooting the ball, scoring or making plays. It’s just about putting pressure on the defense and staying with an attacking mentality throughout the game. match.”
The best part about George’s performance, and the aspect that further contradicts his spurious reputation for shrinking in big moments, is that George’s biggest pieces in Game 3 came directly in response to adversity. Whenever it seemed like the Jazz was starting to gain momentum and the ghosts of the Clippers’ playoff collapse began to creep into the collective consciousness of Staples Center, George applied a tourniquet to the bleeding before it ‘it does become a hemorrhage.
When the Jazz reduced the Clipper’s lead to two points at the start of the second quarter, George came back straight away with a layup and a 3-point run to reduce the lead to seven. Later in the quarter, he hit 3 back-to-back daggers, the second of which came from 32 feet, to extend the lead to 16 and force a time out for Utah.
“I thought PG had set the tone early. After that 8-0 run [by the Jazz to start the game], I thought he was decisive in what he wanted to do, you know, make plays for us, attack or shoot the 3-point shot, “Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said after Game 3.” It was a great game for him tonight and we have to keep building on it. “
By the end of the third quarter, the Jazz had chased a 16-point halftime deficit to eight, when George returned. On a possession that was going absolutely nowhere, he got up and swung a 3-point corner with Bojan Bogdanovic draped over him. If he misses it, Utah has the chance to make it a two-possession game. Instead, the Clippers rose to 11 and gave themselves some much-needed breathing space.
“When [George] begins, I find additional motivation. I think the whole team, we start to ride his wave, we start to ride his energy, ”Clippers goalie Reggie Jackson said after Game 3.“ Once he gets the flow a bit. and makes a few shots, his energy is electric and contagious. . Once it’s gone, we all feed off of it and it makes it easier for us to play. ”
In the fourth quarter, when Utah made their final shot and reduced the lead to 10 with just under nine minutes to go, George made an incredible one-on-one shot to pass Royce O’Neale, the bumped into space, then finished with a right foot and right hand scoop float kissed with a perfect glass top touch on Rudy Gobert, arguably the best rim protector in the NBA. The degree of difficulty on this shot is higher than Scoville units on a Carolina Reaper.
Hits like this are worth more than two points – they’re demoralizing. The Jazz did everything right defensively, and George was just plain better. Utah never went under 10 after that shot, and both teams had their starters out at the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
We are conditioned to think that clutch hits only happen at the end of games. But the buckets George made on Saturday, in the Clippers’ most important game of the season, were just as crucial as if they had come in the dying seconds. And that’s not even to mention the defensive work he did on Mitchell the entire game and the entire series.
With a few more performances like this in the weeks to come, George could definitely put all the absurdity of “Pandemic P” behind him.
“Oh, we’re a different team,” Lue said when asked how George’s success affected the Clippers. “We know that. It’s been like that all season. He’s been great. You know, he had a bad game, whatever, but people are going to have bad games. The biggest thing is up for the challenge. defensively with Donovan, with [Joe] Ingles with these guys getting shut down. Close, but also stop the penetration, and PG did a great job tonight. “