LOS ANGELES -- LA Clippers star Paul George avoided torn ligaments in his sprained right knee and is not expected to require surgery.
While George will miss the remainder of the regular season and will not be reassessed for two to three weeks, the Clippers breathed a sigh of relief that he did not suffer a more significant injury when he landed awkwardly after colliding knee to knee with Oklahoma City's Lu Dort in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's 101-100 loss to the Thunder.
"He's a little disappointed, as expected," coach Ty Lue said before the Clippers routed the Thunder 127-105 in a rematch Thursday night. "But I think we got the best case scenario as far as what we thought it could be. And so, being reevaluated in two, three weeks is something that we are looking forward to."
George will need to let his knee heal before being reevaluated. Once he feels his knee is strong enough, he will need time to ramp up if he is able to return this postseason. The Clippers (39-35) are in fifth in the Western Conference standings but also are just two games above seventh and the play-in tournament with eight games remaining.
If the Clippers clinch a playoff berth, a potential George return in the first round is considered optimistic.
"His spirits are down," Lue said. "But that's to be expected when it's late in the season and when you want to help your team. But we are going to support him 100 percent."
Lue said the Clippers will start guard Eric Gordon in George's place for the remainder of the season.
And once again, the Clippers will have to try to win without one of their stars at the most important time of the season. Kawhi Leonard tore his right ACL in Game 4 of the second round against Utah in the 2021 playoffs. The Clippers still made it to the Western Conference finals before falling to Phoenix.
Last season, with Leonard out the entire year, George had to sit out the second play-in game, a loss to New Orleans, because he tested positive for COVID-19. That came after George had returned from a three-month absence due a torn ligament in his elbow.
Leonard hit his first seven shots Thursday before finishing with 32 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals.
"Provided positive energy, nobody's head was down," Leonard said of several Clippers contributing in George's absence. "We wish PG a speedy recovery and want him to get back to himself. But it's just next man up. And that's how we're going to have to play, we got to keep sharing the ball and then just dial in even deeper and come into these games more focused because we're missing a superstar."