SALT LAKE CITY — As LA Clippers forward Paul George was on the line with 10 minutes and 11 seconds left in the second round of Tuesday night’s Game 1 Utah Jazz fans serenaded him with chants of “Playoff P!”
And with 1:37 to go, the mockery of choice, and the loudest of the night, was an “overrated” chant that echoed many of the 18,007 fans in a packed Vivint Arena in Utah’s 112-109 win. Jazz fans have been going to George since he played for Oklahoma City when the Thunder faced the Jazz in the 2018 playoffs.
George said he welcomes the taunts.
“I like it,” George said. “That part doesn’t touch me. It’s all respect. I’ve had good games here and I’ve had bad games here.”
He added: “That’s part of this game, to be honest. The audience will be involved. You want that. As an opponent you actually want that.”
The All-Star guard missed 12 of his first 14 shots to the delight of jazz fans, but helped the Clippers nearly force overtime.
Despite shooting 4-for-17 overall, George scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and 10 rebounds for the game. George scored seven points in the final three minutes, including a three-pointer with 38.4 seconds left, helping to reduce Jazz’s nine-point lead to three. But Marcus Morris Sr. couldn’t get 3 off Rudy Gobert at the end to send it to overtime.
Afterward, George said he knew what he was doing wrong and what to do in Game 2.
“The fact is, I didn’t shoot the ball well,” said George. “I thought I was indecisive about my approach. But I’ll be a little better at taking the pictures I want.”
George said the Jazz wanted the Clippers to shoot midrange while Gobert wandered through the paint, but that he could “set those up better”.
“The big guy is really good at just hiding the paint and just sitting on the edge,” George said of Gobert, who had 10 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. “And in a lot of plays, I just forced myself to get to the basket where he’s waiting for me. So I think I’m just being decisive in setting up the set, taking the shots I want while he’s in those matings.”
George remained aggressive and went to the line 10 times. There he heard it from jazz fans. But he plans to keep playing physically.
“It’s playoff basketball,” George said when asked about matching Utah’s physical play. “The physicality just has to be allowed on both sides, and I’ll leave it at that.”