Paul George’s 40-point game powers Clippers to win over Kings

Announcing teams’ inactive players before the game is usually an afterthought in NBA arenas, as fans are still generally less concerned about players not in uniform than finding their seats.

But Saturday night’s boos were faint but audible at the Golden 1 Center when mention was made of Clippers star reserves Kawhi Leonard and John Wall sitting out the second game of the season to rest. The team have pledged a conservative approach to preseason minutes, and Saturday was the second example of that in as many games after Leonard played 21 minutes off the bench – his first time as a reserve – in Thursday’s season . opening win.

Leonard and Wall made the trip but watched from the sidelines, and playing shorthanded by the team’s own design will not be an isolated occurrence this season. And on those nights, the question that will make the difference between success and failure will be who and what shows up for the Clippers.

Amid a 111-109 win over the Kings that put the Clippers 2-0 up, there were 13 turnovers, many of which met coach Tyronn Lue’s criteria for carelessness – lofted passes that were intercepted in midfield and slipped into easy Kings hoops converted, first quarter pass no one in particular.

A game after making two of his eight shots against the Lakers, Norman Powell, who has been pressuring himself to play at the All-Star level while starting in Leonard’s absence, made one of his 10 shots.

There were three bizarre delay-of-game calls and stretches as the offense dried up with Wall without a true backup point guard.

But from the end of the second quarter to the end of the game, starting from the moment he was upset after being called out for an offensive foul and drawing a technical draw to argue the call, there was an attack from Paul George who his 20th career-produced 40-point game. After scoring four points in his first 11 minutes, he hit 36 ​​in his last 28 to finish with 40, six rebounds and six assists with two steals.

George had practice last season shouldering offense in Leonard’s absence, writing two 40-point games before injuring his elbow weeks last season, and his solace showed on Saturday when he returned in returned that role.

Lue spoke to George before the first game about being aggressive with Leonard this season as well, even after George called himself a second option for Leonard.

Clippers guard Reggie Jackson passes the ball around Sacramento Kings forwards Domantas Sabonis and Keegan Murray.

Clippers guard Reggie Jackson (1) passes the ball around Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis (left) and Keegan Murray in the first quarter Saturday.

(Randall Benton/Associated Press)

“I don’t think he needs to switch roles, I think he needs to stay aggressive,” Lue said. “I had this conversation with PG … you have to be aggressive and do what you do.”

After coming back into play in the fourth quarter with seven minutes remaining, George needed just 29 seconds to isolate on the right, turning and shooting a falling knight that gave the Clippers a 12-point lead. Two possessions later, George made a layup through the flailing arms of two defenders to keep the lead at a dozen.

The Clippers made nine of their 22 three-pointers and 20 of their 22 free throws — both significant improvements after shaky shots in Thursday’s win over the Lakers. And those numbers were no credit to George alone, not with Luke Kennard showing increased comfort driving the color — he finished with 11 points — and Robert Covington leading in his 22 minutes with eight points and seven rebounds. His dunk in traffic followed by a steal and score was a boost when a second unit with inconsistent offensive success needed a run.

There was also Ivica Zubac, the center who, during his more than three seasons, has proven to be a constant in an ever-changing lineup that influenced King’s shots in the paint. Lue called Zubac “our enforcer,” and when he added that “he’s going to be big for us,” that was true on more than one basis: Zubac had 10 points to go with eight rebounds, despite not playing late when the Clippers turned to a smaller cast. As the only 7-footer in the rotation, Zubac’s availability and production will be more important than ever this season. Zubac anchored a few lineups, the length of which stopped King’s rides before they began.

“Zubac, he’s freaking big, man,” said Kings coach Mike Brown. “And good. He’s good. Your team, if you look at your team, look at Boston, look at all that length and athleticism, you think that’s the prototypical NBA team that you want to build.

Next up for Clippers: Sunday vs. Phoenix Suns

When: 7 p.m. PDT

In the air: TV: Bally Sports SoCal; Radio: 570, 1330

To update: Phoenix (1-1) went to the net in both games early in his season after the season-opening comeback win was sealed by Damion Lee’s game-winning shot, then a loss on Friday in Portland that saw Anfernee Simons score in the last second Haken fired a shot over Sun defender Mikal Bridges. Suns point guard Chris Paul has started the season with a six-for-17 shooting but has 21 assists against just four turnovers. Paul George’s 40-point game powers Clippers to win over Kings

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