With just over 8 minutes left in the 3rd Quarter, I watched Donovan Mitchell slice through the paint and throw Rudy Gobert a ridiculously tough alley-oop. I looked up at the Crypto.com Arena scoreboard and it showed 76-51 for the Jazz. Sigh. I unlocked my phone and opened the UBER app to see how fast a car could pick me up to help me escape the pain of a sixth straight loss… That was until the Clippers started doing what the Clippers do best. Slowly but surely, they inched their way forward until, somehow, thanks to Paul George’s incredible two-way performance and two consecutive Isaiah Hartenstein floater push shots over Rudy Gobert, we were miraculously up by 1. The crowd was electric. I was freaking out and high-fiving every single Clipper fan around me. We had done it. The Comeback Clips were at it again, this time erasing a 25-point deficit.
Hold on a second… I swear we’ve seen this movie before. Rewind to June 18, 2021: Game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-finals featuring the LA Clippers hosting the Utah Jazz up 3-2. The Clippers were one win away from advancing to the Conference Finals and breaking the curse that refused to let them get past the 2nd round of the playoffs. In that game, in the same stadium against the same team, the Clippers found themselves down 75-50, an almost identical deficit to the one that occurred today. Again, they inched their way out of the 25-point hole and came back and won. The parallels are uncanny. I genuinely couldn’t tell you how they keep doing this, but I’m not mad about it at all.
Paul George finally made his return to the floor. After missing over three months with an elbow injury, the superstar was on a minutes restriction… until he scored 20 in the 3rd quarter. It looked as if George hadn’t missed a single day. His handle was as crisp as ever and his shot was as pure as it always is. George finished the night with 34 points, but what was even more impressive was his defensive impact. He finished the game with 4 steals and a block. He was all over the court and his energy was infectious. With George back on the court, he can allow the role players of the Clippers to assume more secondary roles. As George knifes through the defense and draws defenders, he can kick it out to anyone on the roster. Tonight, Luke Kennard cashed multiple clutch 3’s as he’s shooting a league best 45% from distance.
The Comeback Clips are back. When the Clips were down 25, Hartenstein admitted in his postgame interview that he “looked at T-Mann and said we’ve been here before.” That mentality, especially come playoff time, is so dangerous. This team isn’t fazed. You can be up by 10-20-30 points and they’ll still feel as if they can blow you out by the end of the game. And I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but we are still missing Kawhi and Norman Powell. The Crypt is missing them and cannot wait for their return. In the meantime, Paul George lights up the box score which is a sight that Clipper fans everywhere love to see. I mean after all, how could you not love this team!
~Michael Bannerman (insta: mab__44 // twitter: mabannerman44)