More than three months since being pulled from the Clippers’ lineup with an elbow injury, Paul George scored 34 points to lead LA to a 121-115 win over the Utah Jazz.
George, who played his last game against the Sacramento Kings on December 22, shot 50 percent from the field and made six for nine from behind the arc, along with six assists and four steals in just over 30 minutes of action.
“It’s in the 90 percentile,” George said of his injured elbow after the game. “But it’s still part of the progression. The ligament will get stronger with the stress put on it … but I feel good. It’s no pain; there’s nothing of that sort.
“It’s more so just that muscle and my forearm getting stronger.”
The 11-year veteran said at first he considered surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right shooting elbow but decided to give the injury time to heal on its own.
“He looked really good. I didn’t think he’d be that good. The biggest thing was just defensively, said, Clippers’ coach Ty Lue. “He was pretty sharp.”
The seven-time All-Star star knew he would return sometime this season and told reporters that he hoped his presence boosted the team.
“Fresh energy, that the guys believe we’ve got a fighting chance,” said George.
Lue confirmed the “vibe” around the team has been “totally different” and George’s return was a huge morale boost.
The result was a come-from-behind win for the 37-39 Clips, who snapped a five-game losing streak after dropping seven of their last 10 games.
The eighth-place Clippers are set to go up against the seventh-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the Play-In.
A win against the T’Wolves would have the Clips play the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, while a Play-In loss would result in a matchup against the 9/10 winner.