Pelicans shootaround update: Paul George out Friday vs. New Orleans

Hours before Friday’s tip-off at Crypto.com Arena, the LA Clippers officially declared that top player Paul George will be sidelined vs. New Orleans, after the seven-time All-Star entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. That headline-generating piece of news means the Clippers will not have their leading scorer (24.3 ppg) and distributor (5.7 apg) in a must-win Western Conference play-in elimination game against New Orleans.

However, LA has plenty of experience this season competing – and winning games – without George. The Clippers finished 42-40 overall, despite George missing 51 contests due to injury. LA went 24-27 when he was sidelined, playing near .500 ball even though fellow perennial All-Star wing Kawhi Leonard (knee) was out for the entire regular season. Under second-year head coach Ty Lue, the Clippers have repeatedly shown an ability to withstand key absences, including ranking eighth in the NBA in defensive efficiency (109.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) sans a pair of All-NBA caliber stoppers for more than half of the campaign.

Other notes:

Clippers southpaw sharpshooter Luke Kennard (hamstring) is listed as questionable to play Friday. Kennard led the NBA in three-point percentage this season at 44.9. …

New Orleans has a chance to make some unique history with a win Friday. The Pelicans would become the first team since the 1996-97 Phoenix Suns to reach the NBA playoffs after starting the regular season at 1-12 or 0-13. Coincidentally, David Griffin was in Phoenix’s front office 25 years ago.



Wednesday play-in win vs. San Antonio

CJ McCollum, Herbert Jones, Brandon Ingram, Jaxson Hayes, Jonas Valanciunas

Reserves: Jose Alvarado, Trey Murphy III, Larry Nance Jr., Naji Marshall, Devonte’ Graham

Notes: This starting group was 7-3 in the regular season. The Pelicans went 29-26 in the 55 games Ingram played. … Valanciunas (74 starts), Jones (69) and Graham (63) were the only NOLA players to start more than 55 times. Ingram made 55 starts, followed by Josh Hart’s 40 prior to a trade to Portland. … The Pelicans used 23 different starting lineups.


Tuesday play-in loss at Minnesota

Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac

Reserves: Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Terance Mann, Isaiah Hartenstein, Amir Coffey

Notes: This starting group was 4-1 in the regular season. The Clippers went 18-13 in the 31 games George played. … Zubac (76 starts) and Jackson (75) were the only LA players to start more than 55 times. Batum and Morris made 54 starts apiece, while Mann totaled 33. … The Clippers used 26 different starting lineups.



On Wednesday, the New Orleans trio of McCollum, Ingram and Valanciunas produced their best combined offensive game since joining forces in February, totaling 81 points on 33/56 shooting from the field vs. San Antonio. Similar output from those three would put the Pelicans in optimal position to post a second win on the Clippers’ home floor in 2021-22.


LA’s offensive production during the four-game season series vs. New Orleans varied greatly and was a swing factor in the outcomes. Measured by points allowed, the Pelicans’ two best defensive games all season both came against the Clippers, who tallied just 81 points in a November loss, then 89 in a January defeat. However, on April 3, LA rang up 119, its lone victory over New Orleans.


Bench impact could be an important factor for both teams. Alvarado led Pelicans reserves Wednesday with 12 points, including making three three-pointers and providing his usual disruptive defense. Powell might start Friday due to George’s absence, but in the second unit Tuesday, Powell scored 16 points on 5/9 shooting. Mann has also been a dangerous postseason performer (39 points vs. Utah to eliminate the Jazz in 2021 second round).