Clippers' Paul George Out vs. Pelicans Due to Health and Safety Protocols

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 15, 2022

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) controls the ball during an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
AP Photo/Ashley Landis

The Los Angeles Clippers will be without their top player for Friday's Western Conference postseason play-in game against the New Orleans Pelicans, as Paul George entered the NBA's health and safety protocols and will be unavailable.

The Clippers entered the 2021-22 season knowing they'd be without Kawhi Leonard for most or all of the year. They at least had George healthy to help the team push for a playoff berth.

That changed in December when the seven-time All-Star was diagnosed with a torn UCL.

George made his return to the court March 29 against the Utah Jazz, which allowed him to get some meaningful minutes before the postseason.

Despite Leonard's partially torn ACL and the injury to George, the Clippers remained in the playoff hunt and made it to the play-in tournament as the No. 8 seed with a 42-40 record.

George, who is a seven-time All-Star and was an NBA MVP finalist in 2019, has been his usual productive self when healthy this season.

In 31 regular-season games, PG averaged 24.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.9 three-pointers made and 2.2 steals.

Despite George's presence, the Clippers fell 109-104 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in their first play-in game earlier this week.

That means Friday's game against the Pelicans is a win-or-go-home scenario that will see them either clinch the No. 8 seed or miss the playoffs.

With neither George nor Leonard available, Clippers head coach Ty Lue will have to lean heavily on Reggie Jackson, Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, Terance Mann, Amir Coffey and others.