George after Game 5: I 'dug into a place that I've been already'
Paul George silenced his critics with an outstanding 37-point, 16-rebound, and five-assist performance with Kawhi Leonard out as the Los Angeles Clippers held off the Utah Jazz for a pivotal 119-111 Game 5 victory on Wednesday.
George knew he needed to take the reins following his co-star's injury, a position the veteran has been in before as the No. 1 option for many years with the Indiana Pacers.
"I've been in Indiana, where I had to lead a franchise. The beauty here is I get to do that with one of the best in the world in Kawhi," George said postgame, according to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk. "Now Kawhi is down. It was just that mindset being back in Indy, having to set the tone and come out and lead a ballclub.
"That's really the mindset I came out with. It was nothing that I had to prove. It was nothing that I had to be surprised about myself. I just dug into a place that I've been already in my career, and it just came down to trust. Everybody just allowed me to lead and they kept pushing me. They just kept me into a great mental space."
Along with Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant, George is now one of just two players to register at least 35 points, 15 boards, and five assists in a game this postseason. No Clippers player has generated the same production in a playoff contest during the franchise's 51-year history, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
George hasn't scored fewer than 20 points during each game of Los Angeles' postseason campaign. He also helped to hold the Jazz to 4-of-13 shooting as the primary defender on Wednesday, all while notching a pair of blocks and a steal.
"He was ready to put the team on his back to carry extra weight, and he showed up and proved why he's one of the best players in this league and why he's been incredible for us when we had him for the entire season. ... He just kept playing with conviction," said Clippers guard Reggie Jackson.