Paul George couldn’t have asked for a better result in his return to the lineup against the Utah Jazz.
After missing the last three months due to a torn UCL in his right elbow, George finished the Clippers’ comeback 121-115 win over the Jazz with 34 points, six assists, and four steals.
With the Clippers down 25-points in the third quarter, PG-13 exploded for 20 points in the frame on 5-7 shooting from the field, including 3-4 from beyond the arc, helping the Clippers erase the deficit with over eight minutes to go in the frame.
“It’s in the 90 percentile,” George said about how strong his elbow has gotten in rehab, per ESPN. “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.”
George’s 34-point night was the most a player has missed after missing 40-plus games within one season, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. After Tuesday, George has more 30-point outings (7) than the rest of his Clippers teammates combined (6).
The Clippers’ win over the Jazz stopped a five-game losing streak and gave Coach Ty Lue a record fourth 24+ point comeback. The Clippers have had three since January, the previous record. Three of which came from 25 or more down. Ty Lue’s team has the most 24-plus-point comeback wins in one season with four. They previously set the record with three coming in January alone.
And George’s timing could not have been any better as he returned to stop the Clippers’ five-game losing streak. Now at the eighth spot in the Western Conference, George’s return couldn’t have come at a better time. This moment wouldn’t have come if PG-13 had elected to undergo surgery to repair his elbow. However, a doctor told George the damaged ligament could heal and “attach itself back to the bone” if he took some time off.
“It was actually cool because I got a ton of work with my left hand,” George said on air, “I became a better player through this process because I had to use my left hand a lot more. I think it will show as the season goes on with passing and finishing and ballhandling.
“I just did a ton of work to where I feel confident shooting 3s with my left. I don’t know if anyone will see that in a game.”
The Clippers (37-39) return to action when they face the Bulls on Thursday.