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Paul George excelling in new point-guard position for Clippers


The level guard and the pupil sat subsequent to 1 one other on a padded part of the scorer’s desk Sunday afternoon in Dallas, two minds attempting to reach at one imaginative and prescient for the ultimate quarter of an eventual Clippers victory.

Expect extra of the identical sooner or later as coach Tyronn Lue, a former NBA level guard, entrusts wing Paul George with a brand new position of de facto level guard, a job he started in a Friday win in San Antonio and continued in Sunday’s victory in opposition to the Mavericks.

Two years after Lue challenged George and Kawhi Leonard to enhance their playmaking and George carried it out by means of working with former assistant Chauncey Billups, George mentioned that have gave him consolation in current days when coaches requested him to extra instantly provoke the offense after his return from a hamstring damage. The transfer comes with the crew’s conventional level guards in flux: Reserve John Wall is out not less than one other week with an stomach damage whereas longtime starter Reggie Jackson was moved to the bench two weeks in the past, his ballhandling duties initially going to wing Terance Mann.

Mann stays a starter. And Leonard initiates the offense, as effectively. But now George is dealing with a bigger share of bringing the ball upcourt, a job he mentioned feels “natural.”

“I told PG, ‘You’re not a traditional point guard so you don’t have to facilitate and try to make the play, like, you got to go get yours, as well,’” Lue mentioned. “And he’s been doing a good job of just trying to make the right play, the right pass but you’ve got to be aggressive. He’s doing a good job of just understanding what we want to run and how we want to run it.”

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Two victories don’t make a pattern. But the Clippers (25-24) hope they will begin one. This season, their offense ranks twenty sixth in producing 111.7 factors per 100 possessions, in line with Cleaning The Glass, the statistics database that strips out “garbage time” possessions. Against San Antonio and Dallas, the Clippers averaged 133.9 factors per 100 possessions.

Those numbers might simply as simply be pinned to Leonard scoring a mixed 66 factors in his final two video games, and reserve Norman Powell a complete of 45. But George has additionally performed a key position. Nine of his 12 assists Friday got here after George reached the paint, or was close to it on a drive. After solely 4 first-half pictures Sunday, stymied by Dallas’ zone, George responded by repeatedly discovering methods into the paint. This is the way in which George has to play, Lue mentioned.

Clippers level guard Paul George, left, and ahead Robert Covington have a good time through the second half of a 112-98 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

(LM Otero / Associated Press)

“It just gives you another attack guy, he creates plays for us, get downhill and I don’t have to do it all game,” Leonard advised The Times. “I can get some catch-and-shoots now and when I got the ball bringing it up it’s the same thing, we’re just helping each other out.

“[Terance] Mann is doing a hell of a job, he’s still running it. I just think Paul being who he is as a ballhandler and three-point shooter, mid-range shooter, it helps us.”

With the position change, George “has to sacrifice the most” as a result of he received’t get among the pictures that had been typical when he performed off the ball, Lue mentioned Sunday. But the change was made partially as a result of George nonetheless has the choice to assault first, conserving him engaged, the coach mentioned. With Leonard scoring 30 factors Sunday to increase his streak of not less than 24 factors to seven consecutive video games, the offense will tilt ever extra closely towards Leonard, however Lue didn’t need that to return at the price of his co-star’s rhythm.

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It addressed a legitimate concern, George mentioned.

“I felt like I would lose my rhythm just because, rightfully so, we got one of the best players and one of the best playmakers and when [Leonard] has the ball in his hands, good stuff happens, so we’re going to run stuff through him,” George advised The Times. “Perfectly fine with that.

“Flip side of that sometimes it is tough when you haven’t shot it in two, three, four, five possessions and then now you get one and it’s like all right, I’m tuned up. But then I might not shoot again for another two, three, four possessions and so you might find it’s like OK, my shot, I need to put a little more touch on it, but then you don’t shoot it again. It’s a little tough to stay in rhythm sometimes. Yeah, this works great for me where … while I’m out there, I’m trying to get him opportunities and look for him and make the game easy for him because he’s so efficient and shoots the ball so well.”

Entrusting the brand new obligations to George means accepting the danger of turnovers. George had turned the ball over on 18% of his possessions because the pick-and-roll ballhandler coming into Saturday. On 25 pick-and-roll possessions wherein he’d been trapped, his turnover fee had jumped to one-third, per Synergy Sports.

Operating at his best means making the easy go, Lue has burdened. George scored 16 factors with 12 assists and 0 turnovers in opposition to San Antonio. He added 21 factors and 4 assists and 5 turnovers in opposition to the Mavericks, although not one of the turnovers got here after halftime because the Clippers outscored Dallas by 19 to cruise to a 14-point win.

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Not everybody within the NBA is satisfied the crew will play and not using a conventional level guard for lengthy. The Clippers are mentioned to be serious about upgrading the place forward of the Feb. 9 commerce deadline, and Lue has mentioned in current weeks he would favor to maintain a degree guard in his rotation. Within the locker room, gamers’ opinions on the subject differ: Several consider a “traditional” level guard is required to optimize the offense. Others say it’s an outdated notion as long as ballhandlers are unselfishly shifting the ball from one facet of the courtroom to a different, forcing rotations that may open driving lanes.

“If we go toward this way to finish the season I’ll love it,” George mentioned, “but, you know, I think just with how we play and if we’re going to play with four wings and a big or at times five out with our small ball, then I think that’s where I feel we have the advantage where we can stay big and we still got a facilitator and playmaker on the floor and can get us into sets and get us into good shots.”

On Saturday, Lue indicated he feels the identical method. The wing-oriented lineups he tried in opposition to the Mavericks constructed round George, Leonard and Powell could possibly be a “really, really good unit for us.”

“Marcus [Morris], Nico [Batum], PG, Kawhi or [Robert Covington] in that mix along with Norm or Luke [Kennard], whatever, those are going to be some good lineups for us,” Lue mentioned.


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