SALT LAKE CITY – When LA Clippers forward Paul George stood on the line, 10 minutes 11 seconds behind in the second round of Game 1 Tuesday night, Utah Jazz fans serenaded him with chants of “Playoff P ! “
And with 1:37 to go, the ridicule of choice and the loudest of the night was an “overrated” chant that many of the 18,007 fans repeated in a packed Vivint Arena in Utah’s 112-109 victory. Jazz fans have been going to George since he played for Oklahoma City when the Thunder took on Jazz in the 2018 playoffs.
George said he welcomed the taunts.
“I like it,” said George. “That part is not enough for me. It’s all respect. I had good games here and I had bad games here.”
He added, “It’s part of this game, to be honest. The crowd will be involved. That’s what you want. As an opposing player, you kind of want that.”
The all-star security guard missed 12 of his first 14 shots, to the delight of jazz fans, but almost helped the Clippers to extra time.
Despite shooting a total of 4 for 17, George scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to end the game with 10 rebounds. George scored seven points in the final three minutes, including a 3-pointer 38.4 seconds back that helped reduce a nine-point Jazz lead to three. But Marcus Morris Sr. couldn’t get a 3 against Rudy Gobert in the end to send him into overtime.
Afterward, George said he knew what he did wrong and what to do in Game 2.
“The fact is, I didn’t shoot the ball well,” said George. “I thought I was undecided about my approach. But I’ll be a little better at getting the shots I want.”
George said the jazz wanted the Clippers to do midrange recordings while Gobert roams the paint, but that it “can do this better”.
“The big guy is really good at just clogging the paint and just sitting on the edge,” said George of Gobert, who had 10 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. “And a lot of the games I’ve just forced myself to get into the basket where he’s waiting for me. So I think I’m crucial to the mindset to get the shots I want while he’s in this coverage . “
George remained aggressive and took the line 10 times. There he heard it from jazz fans. But he plans to keep playing physically.
“It’s playoff basketball,” said George when asked if it would match Utah’s physical game. “The physicality just has to be allowed at both ends, and I’ll leave it at that.”