Paul George learned that he was named an All-Star a few hours before the start of Tuesday night’s game. When the ball was tipped, George made it clear why he had earned that distinction.
George put up 25 points in the first half and helped the Clippers win wire-to-wire over Washington, 135-116.
The Clippers star made the Wizards feel his presence immediately. He started the game with authority, getting into the lane and abusing Bradley Beal with his size. George scored 12 of LA’s first 14 points. His shot chart was beautiful, including six field-goal attempts in the paint and seven 3-point tries.
George wasn’t alone in putting his foot on the Wizards’ throats. The Clippers outscored the road team 36-20 in the opening period and extended their lead all the way to 24 in the second quarter. Unfortunately, that burst of energy couldn’t last forever. Washington closed to 14, but George hit a three to end the half to keep the Clippers up 17.
In the third quarter, things started unraveling. LA surrendered its highest-scoring third quarter of the season as the Wizards put up 39 points and trimmed the lead down to five. Washington made 75 percent of its shots in the period, and it looked like the Clippers might be in for a photo finish, especially with one of their closers, Lou Williams, out for the evening for scheduled rest.
The Clippers’ mentality is always next man up, though. And that mantra quite literally took the form of Terance Mann, whose energy kept the team going. Mann scored the first seven LA points of the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer to start things off and a cutting dunk to get the lead back to double digits. then passed the baton to Ivica Zubac.
Zubac had one of his finest games of the season, using his strength to control the paint. He had 12 points on perfect shooting from the field and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the year. He boxed out well and made smart decisions on the pick-and-roll, like the aforementioned Mann dunk. But Zubac also made the play of the game, an absolute hammer dunk over Dāvis Bertāns that got the Clippers bench off its feet and actually brought some life to a mostly empty arena.
That dunk only put the Clippers up 11, but emotionally, the game was over. The Wizards never got the lead within single digits after that.
Here's a couple more angles on that Zubac dunk. pic.twitter.com/NbmFxipBLm— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) February 24, 2021
Reggie Jackson also had 17 points and Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 32, ruthlessly yet quietly efficient in another dominant performance. His game willingly left the spotlight for his All-Star teammate and the young guard, all of whom shined in a total team win.