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June 28, 2021

Paul George

LA Clippers

Game 5: Postgame

LA Clippers 116, Phoenix Suns 102

Q. Why have you guys thrived in this environment so far?

PAUL GEORGE: I'm not sure. I think we do just that. We thrive in this moment. We come together even more so in these moments. This team is just made up of toughness, all across the roster. We're going to give it everything we got and we'll live with the results.

Q. You had your biggest game tonight in a moment like this. What did this moment mean to you? And when Ty says that he's wondering why people tend to focus sometimes on your struggles, do you feel like sometimes people pick on you a little bit more than, say, other stars?

PAUL GEORGE: I do. And it's the honest truth. It's a fact. But I can't worry about that. It comes with the job, I guess. But it is what it is. I still try to go and dominate, whether I'm shooting the ball well or not shooting the ball well. I still try to dominate, just the whole game in general.

To me, it doesn't come down to just scoring. It's just being able to play both ends, rebound and make plays for others. And so I'm beyond that, you know what I mean? I'm beyond that. I am who I am. I wish I could shoot 80 percent, 75 percent, on a nightly basis, but it's not realistic.

What I can do is do everything else. And so it is what it is. They can judge me on what they want to. That part don't matter to me. I'm going to go out there and hoop and give it everything I got.

Q. What did Ty say to you at the end?

PAUL GEORGE: I can't share that. [Laughter.]

Q. You guys are on the same page. He had the same answer.

PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, it's a lot of MF's and bleep-this and bleep-that in there.

Q. When do you feel like, I've got a rhythm and keep getting it to me?

PAUL GEORGE: I just thought tonight my legs were under me. That was just really the key. I felt strong physically. My legs just felt like they were under me tonight. And you know, however way the series goes or however way the game goes, that plays a big factor. With that, and then once you see the ball going down, it makes it easier to get in a rhythm.

Q. Do you feel like you just did something different?

PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, I thought I didn't rush or jack shots up to start out. I didn't believe I rushed it. I was able to get an easy and-one layup to start the game. I was able to get a free throw to start the game. I was, at that point, making plays for others, so I felt like I was able to ease myself into the game, as opposed to coming out, jacking 10 shots in the first quarter. I just let the game come to me, and I thought it was great. Mook had it going. We wanted to keep giving him looks. But again, I thought it was me flowing into the game.

Q. Before the game, Ty said you all were bummed about Zu's injury, and he said that Reggie was talking trash all day long to keep your spirits up. Can you describe the emotions of the day?

PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, it was tough, losing another player, another starter for us. Another big body for us that we need. It was tough. Big loss.

But I thought situations like that, you rally together and you just find a way. Keep saying it, Reg is one of the most positive people. He just keeps everything light. And that's what you need in these moments.

Q. Given the ups and downs of the playoffs just from a results standpoint, what's the process for you being able to recover from a physical standpoint and then just moving on to the next game?

PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, I mean, literally the next, you know, hour, two hours right now, will just be straight recovery stuff from massage, cold tub, treatment. The list goes on, and it's a process tomorrow. But you know, I'm dedicated. I'm dedicated to making sure my body is at whatever close to a hundred as possible going into the next game.

Q. About Cuz, what did you think when he came here and how do you think things have been for him mentally and tonight's game?

PAUL GEORGE: I think it's great to have Cuz in there. He slows the game up for us, which is a good thing, because, he's still a dominant big and demands a double team. So I think it's a great breakup for us when we're playing the spread and fast pace to have Cuz slow the game down in moments where we can dump it down there and get production.

He brings the toughness. That's what this team is prided on. We've got toughness from top to bottom, and Cuz just adds to that.

Q. Considering your time playing All-Star Games with him, to see him at this stage of his career now, is that just the way of life of an NBA player? What have you learned from that?

PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, I've been teammates with Cuz on the USA team. We had a great relationship then. And draft night, through doing the whole process, we connected, same draft. You know, we both had big-time injuries that we talked about and shared moments.

I think at this point in his career, I think he has matured a lot. He just plays with so much passion and I think it just gets taken the wrong way because he plays hard, he plays with passion and he just wants to be respected on the floor. But we appreciate what he brings. We appreciate him on the floor. I hope he can be the player that he was, if not close to it.

Q. You just mentioned major injury. I sometimes think of your career as before and after. What did going through that teach you about toughness and digging in when things are hard and all the stuff that you're showing in these playoffs?

PAUL GEORGE: It's just been tough. It's been a process. I hear LeBron say he's not 100 percent and won't ever be 100 percent again. I thought about it, like, man, that was stripped from me as well. It's tough. I definitely lost some things. Even with the shoulder surgeries, I lost a little bit. But again, it's part of this game and you have to take it. You have to roll with it and you have to be able to adapt. You just keep it moving. But it is tough, going through these injuries, rehabbing, finding a way to be yourself again.

I think the good thing about it, you just learn on the fly. You learn how to adapt to stuff, knowing what you can and cannot do. And then you just figure out new ways to do things. I think that's what I've been able to do this year.

Q. You talk about what you lost, but I'm assuming you pick up things, too?

PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, you pick up shortcuts, I guess, ways to get to what you used to be able to do. I think that comes down to the mental part because athleticism goes and you pick up tricks on kind of how to do these things you used to be able to do again.

Q. Did you have any sense coming in that this team is going to play with the energy that it did early on, build the 18-5 lead and come out with that type of energy?

PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, you never can predict how the game is going to go. But I thought the energy, the mood, was that we were going to come out and if they were going to finish this series off, they were going to have to work for it. That was just the mentality we came into this with. We weren't going to back down. We weren't going to just throw in the towel. The fact of the matter is, they got to beat us. It's one game for us, and it's one game for them. One game they beat us, we're out. One game, continue our season. So we just have that mentality to start the game off.

Q. I'm wondering with Ty, we talk about his track record of coming back in series, and with good reason, but have you learned anything new these past series, like when these moments happen and when you're behind, does he change?

PAUL GEORGE: No, he didn't panic. The whole thing, it's not like we've been getting blown out. It not like we have been outmatched. Game 2, we lost on a tip jam. Game 4, we couldn't score to close the game out. It's not like we're that far off. So the great thing with T-Lue is he didn't panic. It wasn't like we were ripping up the game plan, start a new one. Just sticking to what we do. He just continues to give us confidence, give us confidence that what we're doing is working. Stay with the game plan. Minor adjustments, but he's sticking with what we do. In times like this, it's great not to go in panic mode. He's just great at just staying calm and collected.

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