Paul George puts Clippers’ success on his shoulders

Forget the No. 1 or No. 2 or 1a or 1b. While Kawhi Leonard is sidelined, the Clippers’ undisputed bestoption lately has been Paul George.

George has been instrumental in the team’s past three games – all victories – scoring an average of 31.2points, to go along with 5.0 rebounds and 6.1 assists. As he did in the Clippers’ previous two games, George led the Clippers in scoring with 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting while adding six assists in Friday’s113-106 victory in San Antonio.

The Clippers had lost four of their first six games; the only two victories came with Leonard on the floor.

But the five-time All-Star has been on the bench for the past six games because of stiffness in hissurgically repaired right knee. There is no timetable for his return and he is not expected to play Sundaywhen the Clippers (5-4) return home to face Utah (7-3).

After the Clippers snapped their losing streak Monday, George publicly took full responsibility for the way theteam had been playing, saying, “Regardless of who’s in the lineup and who’s not, I’m more than capableof going out, performing and willing our team to wins.”

As for example: Not only did George score the final five points, including the game-winning shot, in theirfirst contest against Houston on Monday at home, the made a game-saving steal and game-tying shot.

He finished that game with 32 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and six steals, becoming just theeighth player in NBA history to achieve that stat line.

“I haven’t been playing well,” George said after that game. “I wanted to be a leader tonight. Be aggressive, be a leader.”

Last month, George shut down any talk of who was the team’s leader, saying “I’m the 2. Kawhi is the1, I’m the 2. So that part we nipped in the bud. There is no ego when it comes to that.”

But when it comes to his talent, he added that he will do “on any given night what I’m capable of.”

And lately that has been more than plenty for Clippers.

George, though, isn’t the Clippers’ only option. Guard John Wall shook off a frustrating performanceagainst his former team, the Rockets, on Wednesday to score 15 points off the bench – 12 in the secondhalf – against San Antonio. He also had six assists and seven rebounds.

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Norman Powell (13 points), Reggie Jackson (14), and Marcus Morris Sr. (11) also contributed to theClippers victory against the Spurs that put them above .500.

Coach Tyronne Lue said that is the kind of production the Clippers routinely need not only from Georgebut the rest of the team.

“Yeah, right now while we’re struggling, we need everything, everybody, every point,” he said after theClippers first victory in their short winning streak.