Los Angeles Clippers star guard Paul George admitted he was "super relieved" that he and Kawhi Leonard came out of the NBA's health and safety protocol healthy. After missing a few games, Clippers stars George and Leonard returned to the lineup on Friday night and helped the Clippers beat the Orlando Magic on the road.
In their first game back to the starting lineup, the Clippers dominated the Magic as they claimed a comfortable 116-90 win. George scored a game-high 26 points and also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out five assists.
Meanwhile, Leonard contributed with 24 points, four rebounds and three assists. "We were playing so well, it was unfortunate that we had to take a hiatus, but safety's first," George said after the game, as quoted on ESPN.
"We acknowledge that first and foremost."
George and Leonard entered the protocol when the Clippers were rolling
The Clippers were on a seven-game winning streak when George and Leonard were placed in the NBA's health and safety protocol.
In the first game they didn't have George and Leonard, the Clippers suffered a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. "It was a bummer because we were on a good roll, and me and PG go out," Leonard said, referring to the Clippers being on a seven-game winning streak when he and George entered protocol.
"That's my mindset around it. Just want to play basketball and wanting to keep building on our chemistry and get better, but understand what the protocols are, and it was a chance for guys to step up and play a bigger role."
But the Clippers managed to win their second game without George and Leonard as they stunned the Miami Heat on the road. "Still trying to follow game plans with the Hawks and the last game, Miami," Leonard said of what he did during quarantine.
"Just talking to the coaches, trying to see just what our coverages are, just keeping my mind in the game." Meanwhile, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged that having George and Leonard on the floor makes everything easier.
"I think on a night when guys were a little tired, just having their presence was big for us," Lue said. "It was huge. Just making plays for everybody else, making the game easy. When teams double-team Kawhi or PG on the post-ups or pick-and-roll, it just makes it easier because our guys are getting open shots, so we need those guys tonight."