Paul George returns, Clippers rally in 4th, beat Jazz


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The return of Paul George has revived the Los Angeles Clippers.

The All-Star guard scored 34 points after missing three months with an elbow injury, helping his team rebound from a 25-point deficit to beat the Utah Jazz 121-115 on Tuesday night.

“It’s a big moral boost,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “Guys were starting to burn out and get tired. We needed that.”

Seeing George hit two straight runs past the Clippers bench was all Lue needed.

“I was like, ‘OK, he’s good, he’s ready,'” the coach said.

Reggie Jackson added 21 points for the Clippers, who went on a five-game skid with a 39-point fourth quarter after trailing 16 points early in the period.

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Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George, left, shoots as Utah Jazz center Greg Monroe defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 29, 2022 in Los Angeles.
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

From there, the Clippers beat Utah 34-12 to end the game. The Clippers took their first lead of the game, 110-109, on a jumper from Isaiah Hartenstein. During the push, George hit his sixth 3-pointer of the game.

George had not played since December 22 while rehabilitating a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“I feel good,” he said. “There is no pain.”

George originally wanted to have surgery after injuring himself, but the doctor told him that this type of injury healed and the ligament would reattach to the bone.

“Fortunately, we went in that direction,” he said.

Assistant coach Brian Shaw ran George through rehabilitation to the point where he felt more like a track athlete than a basketball player.

“Running around uselessly,” George said with a smile, “but it paid off. I trusted him.”

The Clippers have had multiple comeback wins while trailing by at least 20 points this season. Their 35-point comeback against Washington on January 25 was the second most in NBA history.

But George didn’t like to see the holes they themselves had dug while he was gone.

“Always get energy out,” he advised his teammates. “Our intensity has to be there. The game changes completely when you give yourself a chance.”

It was in fourth.

As George rested to start the period, Robert Covington drilled a 3-pointer past his bench that left the Clippers trailing 103-94. It was their first single-digit deficit since the first quarter, when they were limited to 14 points.

Donovan Mitchell scored 33 points and Mike Conley added 19 points for the Jazz, whose losing streak extended to five.

Mitchell attempted to call a timeout on an inbound pass along the baseline with 10 seconds left, but the Jazz had none left. Jackson called the technical foul and did it, putting the Clippers ahead by five.

“We turned the ball over eight times, I think, in the fourth quarter. We lost, I mean, 12, 14 second-chance points,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “Those are possessions we don’t get the chance to score. That’s 39 points around those two things.”

The Jazz struggled on the line, making 17 of 29 free throws.

Utah led by 25 points at the start of the third on a Rudy Gobert basket. George scored 20 points in the period, including 10 of their last 12 points to cut the deficit to 94-82 heading into the fourth.

ADVICE

Jazz: Greg Monroe had four points in his debut after signing a 10-day contract on Monday. He is expected to help fill reserve minutes with center Hassan Whiteside ailing. … Their previous four losses have also come on the road.

Clippers: They have won once in three meetings with the Jazz this season.

FOLLOWING

Jazz: Host the Lakers on Thursday.

Clippers: Visit Chicago on Thursday.


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