What’s shaping up to be a lengthy stretch without Paul George is set to continue for the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon when they play host to the red-hot Sacramento Kings.
George, who averages 24.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists, has been experiencing pain and swelling near his right big toe and was diagnosed with a bone edema, the team announced on Friday.
George sat out of the Clippers’ 119-115 loss at the Boston Celtics on Friday, two days after making 8 of 9 from 3-point range and scoring 36 points in a 121-99 win at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I’m not really sure when he really started feeling it or whatever,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “He did have a hell of a game (against Cleveland), so just hope we can get him back soon.”
The Clippers have not released a timetable for George’s return.
“Everybody’s going to have to step up, pretty much,” the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard said. “We all got to take the challenge and it’s going to be fun.”
The Kings are feeling confident after winning six of their past seven games, most recently holding on for a 119-114 victory against the visiting Denver Nuggets on Saturday afternoon. The victory came despite a career-high 50 points from Denver’s Nikola Jokic.
“To win in this league is really hard, but you have to enjoy this ride,” Kings coach Luke Walton said.
Sacramento’s recent run of success came immediately following a 115-96 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Jan. 20, which was the Kings’ second blowout defeat against the Clippers in five days.
“Hard work and trust is what’s led us to a turnaround,” Walton said.
Sacramento’s recent success also coincides with one of the hottest stretches in the NBA career of Harrison Barnes.
The forward scored 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting against the Nuggets, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range. Barnes has averaged 22.1 points in the past seven games.
Sacramento’s first-round draft pick last June, Tyrese Haliburton, is also feeling comfortable. He scored a season-high 24 points against Denver, shooting 8 of 12 from the field and 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
“Ty continues to make big plays,” Walton said.
The Clippers will also need to prepare for center Hassan Whiteside, who didn’t appear in the previous two meetings against Los Angeles, but is playing his best basketball of the season. Whiteside came off the bench Saturday and had 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in his first double-double this season.
The Kings have plenty of room for improvement, however.
Buddy Hield shot 0-for-9 from 3-point range against the Nuggets, ending a stretch of 87 straight NBA games with at least one 3-pointer. Hield is 7 of 34 from deep in his past three games overall.
George’s absence has been amplified by an injury to guard Patrick Beverley, who has missed the past seven games with a sore knee. Reggie Jackson and Lou Williams have been providing solid backcourt minutes.
“Those are the two guys that we can run pick-and-roll and run plays through, along with Luke Kennard, being able to make plays for each other as well,” Lue said. “We’ve got to do it by committee.”
Kennard started in place of George on Friday and scored 13 points, making 3 of 5 from 3-point range in 26 minutes.
“I have to do a better job of competing harder,” Kennard said. “[In] a couple games, not like I was approaching it in the wrong way, but just kind of overthinking a little bit, just not letting the game come to me and just playing my game.”
–Field Level Media