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Paul George doesn't miss in his first big moment with the Clippers

Los Angeles Times logo Los Angeles Times 11/19/2019 By Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times

The moment called for Paul George to dig down mentally when the game hung in the balance, for the Clippers forward to shake off a turnover when the score was tied late in the game and for him to forget about his foul that led to his team trailing an Oklahoma City Thunder that was putting up a fight to the end.

The moment proved not to be too big for George.

He stepped into the void and delivered a game-breaking three-pointer with 25.9 seconds left, giving the Clippers a lead they never lost that propelled them to a 90-88 win over his former team.

"I'm confident in whatever shot I take, whether I make or miss," George said late Monday night at Staples Center after playing in just his third game of the season, having missed the first 11 recovering from surgery on both shoulders.

"It's part of the game, and I don't care if I haven't made one. There was a big thing about, 'He can't make it to win the games.' That stuff doesn't bother me. I'm out there to play hard and I'm out there to win games. I feel confident in every shot I take. It's up to me to make it or miss it, so again, that type of stuff doesn't bother me."

George completed his night by grabbing the final rebound of the game and then making one of two free throws with 0.3 seconds remaining.

He finished with 18 points on seven-for-14 shooting, three-for-seven on three-pointers. He also had seven rebounds and four assists.

But George also turned the ball over seven times, the big one coming with the scored tied at 86-86 with 36.2 seconds left in the game.

A few seconds later, George fouled Chris Paul, the former Clippers point guard who made both free throws for a two-point Thunder lead and who was defending Paul when he lost control of the basketball with the game on the line.

"It's tough, because again, I'm still getting used to this fast pace, this style," George said. "And again, I haven't had practice time. So a lot of this pressure and on-ball stuff I'm still working on of using my dribble, timing my dribble, using my steps, my footwork. All of that is in process and still trying to work through. But it's good. It's good I'm seeing all types of defenders, from small guards to guys at my position. It's great for me early on because I'm only going to get better with it. I'm only going to figure out my timing. It's good I'm seeing all this tonight."

George refused to let those moments define his night.

Instead, he stepped up in the clutch by coming off a screen set by Montrezl Harrell and accepting a pass from Lou Williams, and knocking down a 27-foot jumper for an 89-88 Clippers lead that stood.

"I'm out there with a lot of great scorers and if I can do anything I can to get these guys as open as possible that's what I'm going to do," Harrell said. "Coach [Doc Rivers] drew up a great play for us to get a three, even though we didn't really need one at that point and time. But it was a big-time shot by Paul George because he's been in these moments plenty of times."

"Yeah, that play was designed for me to get free-up," George said. "It was kind of a miss-direction to draw attention to Lou and JaMychael [Green] and then Trez [Montrezl] coming to [screen] me up on the other side."

Though he spent only two seasons with the Thunder before he was traded to the Clippers last July to form a dynamic duo with Kawhi Leonard, George relished the moment to face and defeat Oklahoma City.

"It was fun. It was fun," George said. "Again, it's any other game. But it was fun just to see familiar faces, share some laughs and just have good competition. It was just great competition all across the board."

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