Paul George insists Clippers still in ‘driver seat’ despite another collapse

Paul George is adamant the Clippers remain in the “driver seat” despite another alarming collapse against the Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals.

The Clippers blew a 19-point lead Sunday as the Nuggets forced a deciding Game 7 with a 111-98 victory. The collapse followed LA giving up a 16-point lead in a Game 5 loss.

George, however, still likes the team’s chances of progressing to a conference finals series with the Lakers.

“It’s positive,” George said when asked about the mood among the roster. “This group’s staying together. We still in the driver seat. It’s not a panic mode. We have a Game 7. I like our odds with our group. We put ourselves in this position and it’s on us to get ourselves out of it.

“We know what we are up against. We have the utmost respect for them as opponents, but I like our chances. I like our odds. I like what we have. Again, it’s on us to finish this out.

“We’ve just got to go back to the film and see what we are doing. I think that’s the only question that needs to be answered, is ‘Why aren’t we matching them?'”

Teammate Kawhi Leonard, who scored 25 points, said it was a case of the team going “cold” in a third quarter in which the Clippers shot 4 for 20 from the floor.

“We just went cold. We went cold in that third quarter. That’s it. We kept getting to the paint, passing the ball, got a little stagnant and just couldn’t make shots,” Leonard said.

“Just got to leave it all out on the floor and make sure we are paying attention to detail and executing and communicating on the defensive end, and that’s all we can do, go out there and play hard and just make sure we know the game plan.”

The Nuggets’ charge came at a pivotal moment. Jamal Murray was left in pain when George blocked his layup attempt and then nailed a 3 at the other end to give the  Clippers their biggest lead.

Nikola Jokic stepped up after that, finishing with 34 points, which included him draining four of his six 3-point attempts.

“It hurt, it hurt a lot,” Murray said of the incident with George. “I was going to come out, but not in Game 6, not in an elimination game. Not when my team needed me, and they had my back.

“Everybody’s talking about me, but I didn’t do nothing. Everybody came in and did their job and more.”

On Jokic’s performance, Murray added: “He’s hitting one-leg step-backs, fading away off one leg with a hand in his face consecutive times, so I’d say he’s the best player in the world.

“It was a team effort, but Joker definitely carried us throughout the game.”

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