The LA Clippers got their second-consecutive win on Wednesday night, defeating the Houston Rockets once again. While the Rockets are a team the Clippers should beat, any win feels good right now, as they pull back to an even .500 on the young season. When looking at their wins this season, specifically those without Kawhi Leonard, one major theme emerges for the Clippers: An aggressive Paul George.
The Clippers have won three games without Leonard this season, and George eclipsed 20 field goal attempts in each of them. When George shoots at least 20 times this season, the Clippers are 3-0, and he’s averaging 34.3 PPG on 53.2% from the field. When he does not shoot at least 20 times, the Clippers are just 1-3 on the season, and 0-3 in games Leonard doesn’t play.
George knows he needs to be more aggressive, but his selfless nature often puts him in facilitator mode, which is not where the Clippers need him to be right now. With the uncertain nature of Leonard’s injury, George needs to be the tier-one star he’s been at times throughout his career. When he asserts himself on that level, the Clippers have success, even with Leonard sidelined.
Keeping the aggression up
Since Paul George vowed to be better after the Clippers fell to the New Orleans Pelicans, he’s responded with two monster games. The question now, is can he keep it up? There is legitimate reason to believe he can, simply because he has done it before, and recently.
When Kawhi Leonard went down in the 2021 playoffs, George knew he needed to be the main guy. He answered that call by averaging 30 PPG, 11 RPG, and 6 APG after Leonard’s injury, leading the Clippers to their first Western Conference Finals appearance in franchise history.
During that postseason, George joined Larry Bird, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Kawhi Leonard, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki, Shaquille O’Neal, Steph Curry, and Allen Iverson as the only players in NBA history with at least 19 games of at least 20 points in a single playoff run.
With a level of play in that postseason only matched by current or future Hall-of-Fame members, George proved he can carry a team. While the Clippers hope he won’t need to do that for long, it’s something they need from him right now, and in these last two games he has delivered.
Sitting at 4-4, the Clippers are not where they want to be, but they are trending in the right direction. With two more games coming up against rebuilding teams, the Clippers have an opportunity to extend their winning streak to four games before taking on some of the heavy hitters. If George continues to play at this level, there is no reason the Clippers cannot have a successful November, and gather momentum as they enter the middle of the season.