Clippers' Paul George is chosen Western Conference player of the week
Paul George’s mind was made up as soon as he saw Detroit rookie center Isaiah Stewart waiting under the rim Sunday in Staples Center.
“I’m looking to dunk that, he’s way under the basket,” George said after the Clippers’ 131-124 win. “I wasn’t getting no calls, so I knew I just had to go aggressive and finish at the rim.”
The resulting one-handed dunk over Stewart was George’s lone basket of the fourth quarter but was the highlight of the Clippers’ finish en route to their fifth consecutive victory. It also was an appropriate capper after a week in which George’s aggressive play produced three consecutive games of at least 30 points — and the NBA’s Western Conference player of the week honor, which was announced Monday by the league. Boston’s Jayson Tatum earned the Eastern Conference honors.
Playing amid lingering pain in a bone on his right toe, an injury that has come and gone since February, George averaged 33.7 points and shot 60.9% on three-pointers during three appearances last week against Portland, Phoenix and Detroit. George did not play Friday against Houston so he could rest. Stewart wasn’t George’s only victim near the rim during his recent run of 30-point games — he shot 10 of 14 from within five feet and 13 of 19 inside the paint.
George called himself “in a good situation physically” Sunday, adding that his toe “is not really killing me right now. So it looks like we’re on top of it, we’re ahead of it, and we’re doing a great job managing it.”
George is averaging 23.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists while shooting 47% overall and 43.8% on three-pointers this season. This is George’s first conference player of the week distinction since joining the Clippers and the ninth such honor of his career.
He played in six of the Clippers’ nine games during their homestand that finished Sunday, averaging 26.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists while he shot 48.7% from behind the three-point arc.
The Clippers finished the 16-day homestand with a 7-2 record, and with more opportunities to practice without the need to travel, George said he “got into a good just physical, mental space.”
“I know what I need to do, I’m coming out prepared,” he said. “I’ve been locked in and focused on my assignments and, you know, I’ve just been at peace; I’m loving and enjoying the game. And I just think the team is coming together.”
George’s injury isn’t the only one the Clippers continue to monitor. Center Serge Ibaka, who hasn’t played since March 14 because of a back issue, won’t travel with the Clippers on their three-game trip this week. Starting guard Patrick Beverley fractured his left hand last week and isn’t expected to be evaluated for at least another three weeks. The team is also managing Rajon Rondo’s recovery from an adductor injury.
“When we’re healthy, we’ve got our guys back, we can be — we can play with anybody, and we know that, we understand that,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “But I think when we have a defensive mind-set, we’re playing ball the right way, moving the basketball offensively, attacking, getting to the paint, we’re a tough team to beat. And this homestand kind of showed us who we are and what we can do and who we can become.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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