Paul George Leads Clippers Amid Kawhi Leonard Slump vs. Suns

Paul George, LA Clippers, NBA Trade Rumors
NBA Analysis Network

During the Thursday night NBA slate, the LA Clippers beat the Phoenix Suns 116-107 and Paul George scored 26 points for the Clippers.

Kawhi Leonard had a rough start to his performance but scored all 16 of his points in the second half. He also added nine rebounds. Eric Gordon and Ivica Zubac both scored 13 points. Zubac hauled in 12 rebounds.

As they adjust to a new lineup rotation, the Clippers go into the break on a two-game win streak. Mason Plumlee, Bones Hyland, and Gordon, all recently acquired players, all played an important role in the victory. Together, they scored 30 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and shot 11 for 11 on free throws.

“The new guys came in and just plugged right in as if we started the season,” George said. “We played great team basketball. We shared it and got stops as we needed to.

“We got everything we need. We just have to bring that all together and find an identity that can carry us.”

NBA SCORES & NEWS: Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, LA Clippers & Phoenix Suns Updates

A five-of-ten shooting performance after the break and a six-of-six free-throw shooting performance led Leonard to have a good second half.

“I just made shots,” Leonard said abut the difference. “You just gotta keep pushing.”

As the game wore on, only Josh Okogie warmed up for the Suns, who took nine of their first ten 3-point attempts. Phoenix was led by Okogie’s 24 points, who finished 6 of 12 from behind the arc, while the rest of the Suns only made five 3s.

“It feels good without having to look over your shoulder when you mess up,” said Okogie, whose recent performances have put him in the running to join Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Deandre Ayton in Phoenix’s starting lineup when Durant returns from a knee injury.

“Coach (Monty Williams) told me, ‘I don’t care if you miss eight in a row. I won’t take you out for missing, but I will take you out for not shooting.’”

A 19-point and nine-assist performance from Booker paced Phoenix. In addition to Ayton’s 18 points, Terrance Ross added 16 points. Despite shooting 1 of 6 from 3-point range, Booker tied Steve Nash’s franchise record of 1,051 3s.

NBA SCORES & NEWS: Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, LA Clippers & Phoenix Suns Updates

After having 19 assists against Sacramento two nights earlier, Paul had 11 assists on Thursday. As a result, the Clippers entered the All-Star break ahead of the Suns in second place. Phoenix soon will have Kevin Durant in the lineup and could add another helpful role player using the buyout market as they did with Ross.

“I don’t want to think about it,” Lue said about the Suns adding Durant to their rotation. “It’s a tough coverage, tough matchup. I’m interested to see how they play, how they share the basketball. But on paper it looks really good.”

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