NBA

George credits impressive comeback performance to Bryant inspiration

By Sports Desk March 30, 2022

Paul George called on the inspiration of his "idol" Kobe Bryant after returning from injury to score 34 points as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz at the Crypto.com Arena.

George had not played since a win at the Sacramento Kings just before Christmas, missing the last 43 games, but he became the first player in NBA history to score over 30 points on his return to action after having missed his team's previous 30 or more games.

The 31-year-old had suffered a torn ligament in his right elbow, but showed no signs of rustiness as he top-scored for the Clippers in the 121-115 win on Tuesday.

After the game, George credited the late Bryant, who experienced numerous injury layoffs during a highly-decorated career.

"Just having an idol like Kobe Bryant," George said. "He played through stuff like this and I always hold myself to a high standard.

"At the end of the day, when I'm finished I want to look at my career, say I gave everything I had. I wanted to help my guys.

"I didn't want to leave them out here hanging for the rest of the season. I felt good. So you know, it was alright to come back.

"I feel good. There's no pain."

Clippers assistant coach Brian Shaw was involved in George's rehab, giving him running drills that the player acknowledged helped his recovery and prepared him for his return.

"Unnecessary running, but it paid off," a smiling George said. "I trusted him. I've got to shout out to the get ready crew, I've got to shout out those guys for getting me ready to play. They battled. They tested me in practices. And it prepared me for this."

George sank six of his nine three-point attempts against the Jazz, as well as managing six assists and two rebounds.

Head coach Tyronn Lue was understandably pleased to see his star man back on the court, saying post-game: "I was like, 'OK, he's good, he's ready.'

"It's a big morale boost to have him back. Guys were getting worn down and tired. We needed that."

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