George: New mindset is behind recent breakthrough performances
Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Paul George credits his new mindset for a recent string of stellar performances that have helped propel the Los Angeles Clippers closer to the top spot in the Western Conference.

A toe injury has slowed George for much of the 2020-21 campaign, and the seven-time All-Star says the ailment affected him both physically and mentally.

"The injury allowed me to kind of make an excuse for myself," George told ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk following Tuesday's 126-115 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Then George said he put the injury in perspective, adding "If I'm gonna play, then don't let it limit me."

The 30-year-old posted 36 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds during his most recent return to Indiana. It was George's fourth straight 30-plus point showing - tied for the second-longest run in his NBA career - and the Clippers' sixth straight victory, the last two of which have come during Kawhi Leonard's absence.

Following a series of underwhelming displays in the bubble that made George a lightning rod for derision, he rebounded to begin this season before the toe injury sidelined him for seven games in February.

The toe issue persists, yet George is producing some of his best career performances. He's shooting at a career-best clip from the field (47.7%) and from behind the arc (43.8%), and the veteran was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday.

"He's definitely in a groove," Clippers teammate Marcus Morris Sr. said. "He's playing with a chip on his shoulder."

George's newfound mental edge is helping the Fresno State product reclaim some pride following poor outings in the bubble that also featured on-court dustups with a pair of Western Conference foes.

He exchanged words with Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and Phoenix Suns sharpshooter Devin Booker in the bubble. Then George dropped 36 points on the Blazers and 33 on the Suns last week.

The 38-18 Clippers sit third in the conference, and just 3.5 games back of the league-leading Utah Jazz. George has played a vital role in the team's recent successful run, and he's no longer using his toe injury as a crutch.

"It hasn't been flaring up, so that's been working," George said of his treatment plan. "And hopefully, at some point, it just goes away and it's an afterthought, nothing I'm worried about going forward."

George: New mindset is behind recent breakthrough performances
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