After suffering a mouth injury on Christmas against the Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers superstar small forward Kawhi Leonard didn’t play on Sunday versus the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center. The two-time Finals MVP was elbowed in the mouth by his own teammate, veteran big man Serge Ibaka.
Without Leonard, the Clippers turned to Paul George on Sunday against the Mavericks to be the No. 1 option on offense and lead the team to a win. However, PG-13 came up shorter than Mini-Me and showed why he’s not a franchise player in the NBA.
The Clippers suffered a historic loss to the Mavericks
The Clippers, sans Kawhi Leonard, lost to Luka Doncic and the Mavericks by a whopping 51 points. Dallas led LA by 57 points at one point and had a 77-27 lead at halftime.
Paul George, the Clippers’ second-best player, was supposed to step up without Leonard in the lineup. However, the All-Star swingman shrunk under pressure, just like he did in Game 7 of the 2020 Western Conference Semifinals against the Nuggets. In 24 minutes versus the Mavericks, George shot 4-of-13 from the field and 0-of-6 from beyond the arc. He finished with 15 points and had four turnovers as well.
George scored 33 points on opening night against the Lakers and 23 on Christmas versus the Nuggets. Fresh off signing a lucrative contract extension, George got off to a hot start in 2020-21.
However, as he’s done in the past, George didn’t deliver the goods for the Clippers against the Mavericks with his partner in crime out due to injury.
Paul George blamed Christmas for the team’s poor play vs. the Mavericks
Paul George’s comments after the Clippers’ loss to the Mavericks were puzzling. The six-time All-Star said the team’s Christmas celebration with their families on Saturday played a part in the 51-point loss to Dallas. The Clippers, who played the Nuggets on Christmas in Denver, didn’t return to LA until early Saturday.
“I take full responsibility. You know, it’s a tough game coming [after] Christmas. I enjoyed my Christmas Day [celebration] yesterday. Today just popped up on me a little too fast,” George said, via ESPN. “I’ll take full ownership for that, coming out and being prepared to play today. Be a different situation come next game, and we will be ready. I hope everyone enjoyed the Christmas Day yesterday and that was the reason for a sluggish day today.”
Big-time players in the NBA don’t make excuses under any circumstances. Clippers fans, though, are used to George saying strange things following a defeat. After LA blew a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets in the 2020 playoffs, George said the team didn’t view the 2019-20 season as championship or bust.
The Clippers are paying Paul George too much money to say foolish things and play inconsistent
Paul George is one of the best players in the NBA. He has career averages of 20.0 points per game with the Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Clippers and is one of the league’s smoothest scorers.
However, George has never played in the NBA Finals and is too inconsistent with his play once the postseason starts. In Game 7 against the Nuggets in last year’s playoffs, George failed to score a point in the fourth quarter. He even hit the side of the backboard on a wide-open attempt from the corner.
The Clippers signed George to a maximum contract extension before the 2020-21 season started. The California native is making superstar money, but he doesn’t come through for his team when it matters the most. George is undoubtedly a great player, and the Clippers are lucky to have him in the fold. However, his play against the Mavericks without Kawhi Leonard next to him and comments after the game prove he’s just an All-Star and not a superstar.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.