‘Playoff P’ arrives in time to save the Clippers’ season

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) flexes his muscles after scoring against the Utah Jazz during the first half of Game 5 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Clippers forward Paul George bends after scoring versus allure throughout Video Game 5 on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Among the most regrettable labels in sports was self-anointed in the spring of 2018, throughout an interview session in which Paul George was inquired about his self-confidence in a specific postseason match.

“Y’all ain’t met Playoff P yet, huh?” he asked with a smile while still a star for the Indiana Pacers.

3 years of mockery later on, we lastly have.

3 years of laughter later on, the joke was on the Utah Jazz.

3 years of tumbling, stopping working and folding under playoff pressure vanished Wednesday night in Salt Lake City underneath the broad shoulders of a male on the edge of bring an injured group into history while rewording his own.

The Clippers frantically required Paul George to fill the unexpected lack of hurt leader Kawhi Leonard and transport them past allure in a critical Video game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals.

What do you understand? Playoff P appeared.

“It was no secret,” he stated. “I knew I had to be big tonight.”

The Clippers were required to ask George to beat his past, disregard his critics and lastly welcome being a $190-million foundation of this franchise.

Who could have thought? Playoff P appeared.

“Now Kawhi is down, it was just that mindset … to set the tone and come out and lead a ballclub,” he stated.

In bring the Clippers to a definitely sensational 119-111 triumph over allure at Salt Lake City’s raucous Vivint Arena, the embattled George led his group into a video game it couldn’t win, enabled it to take control of a series it shouldn’t win and did it regardless of a track record that he’ll never ever win.

In doing so, he put his foot down, stuck his chin out and sent out a message spoken with his Figueroa office to his Palmdale home town.

This is who I am. This is how I can bring this group. This is why I belong here.

“It was a big statement,” stated Clipper coach Tyronn Lue. “I mean, just all the outside noise, it really doesn’t matter. Like they just try to make up anything, but he’s a great player.”

George was a gamer best understood around Los Angeles for tossing up a shot that struck the side of the backboard in crunch time in last season’s Video game 7 conference semifinal loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Now he’ll be understood for scoring 37 points and taking down 16 rebounds while carrying the affordable Clippers to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and moving them within one win of their very first conference finals look in the franchise’s 51-year history.

“He’s incredible. … He was ready to put the team on his back to carry the extra weight,” stated colleague Reggie Jackson, who was extraordinary himself with 22 points.

George was understood for apparently shrugging after every huge playoff loss, constantly declaring he’s not stressed, even in 2015 stating that the season was not a championship-or-bust offer.

Now he’ll be referred to as a gamer who, throughout among the most significant video games in franchise history, passionately set the tone with 22 points in the very first half to assist the Clippers hold up against supernatural Jazz shooting and prepared themselves for second-half supremacy.

“He gave us everything we needed and then some to get this win tonight,” stated Jackson.

Clippers forwards Marcus Morris Sr. and Paul George congratulate each other.

Clippers forwards Marcus Morris Sr. and Paul George praise each other after their Video game 5 triumph over allure on Wednesday night in Utah. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

Playoff P appeared early, informing Lue prior to the early morning exercise he was prepared for the difficulty of matching the effect of Leonard, who sprained his best knee in the 4th quarter of Video game 4.

Remembered Lue: “Simply today prior to shoot-around he stated, ‘T, I got us.’”

Said George of losing Leonard: “It was a tough blow. … We got to come together.”

Playoff P came through late, fighting his way for a 19-foot jumper while drawing a foul that he turned into a three-point play in the final two minutes of the game that proved to be a dagger.

“It just came down to trust,” he said. “Everybody just allowed me to lead.”

Playoff P showed up afterward, hugging owner Steve Ballmer on the baseline and then charmingly saying hello to his parents at the end of his postgame television interview.

“We just lived in the moment and we just played our hearts out tonight,” he said.

With George having his moment, and with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell clearly hobbled by a sprained ankle, the Clippers should wrap up this series Friday at Staples Center even without Leonard. Their superstar would need to return for them to have a chance to beat the blazing Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference finals. The Clippers are being mum about the extent of his injury. But that’s a worry for another day.

Clippers-Jazz schedule

Clippers-Jazz schedule (Tim Hubbard / Los Angeles Times)

In the meantime, a fast confession: Wednesday afternoon, when the sports world was abuzz with the unexpected level of Leonard’s injury, my editor and I discussed my composing a pregame column to talk about the possible impacts of his lack. We lastly chose to pass simply in a case a particular somebody appeared at video game time.

“What if Playoff P shows up?” I asked.

Although I didn’t rather think it myself, numerous hours later on I had actually seen somebody who seemed precisely that.

Throughout George’s postgame videoconference, someone needed to ask him the concern, and I figured it may too be me.

“Is this what Playoff P looks like?”

He smiled as he most likely smiled 3 years earlier, then addressed with a resigned grace born of a point shown.


This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.