Injuries plague the Los Angeles Clippers. Once again.
Ahead of a highly-anticipated heavyweight bout against the Utah Jazz, the team announced that Paul George would miss the game due to a hamstring strain.
The California native left early in the team’s battle against the San Antonio Spurs, still leaving behind his very own 21-point mark on the game. Initially listed as questionable, it was later announced that George would not partake in tonight’s contest.
Even without their leading scorer, however, the Clippers took down the best team in the West, outscoring them 121-114.
In his place played the young, tireless guard, Terance Mann. He finished with 6 points on an efficient 3-for-5 shooting from the field,
But it was the players that came off the bench that had a bigger impact on the floor. It was the combined efforts of Norman Powell, John Wall and Amir Coffey that made up for the absence of the team’s most prolific scoring option.
Riding on waves from his 26-point outing on Saturday, Powell helped drown the Jazz with a 30-point tsunami of his own.
The UCLA product used his dribble and agility to blow by defenders for tough finishes at the rim and got it going from deep, draining three of four three-point attempts. He stayed composed from the start to the final buzzer, knocking down all seven of his free throw attempts.
Wall was, again, an impressive veteran presence that led the team off the bench. He finished the game with 13 points and 8 assists. Admittedly, however, his inclination to make creative and, at times, impossible passes led him to turn the ball over eight times tonight.
Mann’s fellow fourth-year Clipper, Amir Coffey, also put on a show off the bench for the Clippers.
The ‘master brewer’ was cooking in the fourth. He put up six of his eight points in the final quarter, and him taking the charge against a driving Talen Horton-Tucker — initially called an and-one — was the last-minute difference that gave the Clippers a lead they could comfortably keep until the end of the game.
The team’s 7-0 run early in the fourth quarter gave them all the momentum they needed for the team to make a comeback and, eventually, come out with their third win in a row.
Even amidst such success, the team desperately wants and needs George back healthy. While there is no timetable for his return, we can be sure of two things: George said he was okay to Steve Ballmer after his game on Saturday, and the Clippers have enough weapons in their arsenal to continue their fight until their best solider is back and ready for action.