Paul George, Patrick Beverley return to help deliver Clippers rout

LOS ANGELES -- Paul George hit a fadeaway shot, followed it with a 3-pointer off a pass from Patrick Beverley and then threw down a breakaway dunk all in the first four minutes Monday.

The LA Clippers had George and Beverley back from injuries and were at full strength and healthy again.

"Can I get an amen, at least?" Clippers coach Doc Rivers exclaimed after telling reporters that George and Beverley would be available against the Memphis Grizzlies. "That's how I feel."

The Clippers were feeling whole again, and it showed. For only the fifth time this season, they had their entire roster available, and they punished the Grizzlies 124-97 to end a season-high three-game slide at Staples Center.

All of George's seven points came at the start of the game, but the Clippers didn't need much more. Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points, and Montrezl Harrell had 22 off the bench to help the Clippers (38-19) blitz the Grizzlies from the start and take a 35-9 lead with 1:23 remaining in the first quarter.

"This is what we talked about. This is what we dreamed of when this all came together," George said. "This is the squad and the team that we thought we would be."

George returned after missing one game due to a strained left hamstring but had not played since he reinjured his hamstring Feb. 13 at Boston. Beverley, who played 19 minutes and had six points, had missed five straight games because of a groin injury.

This was the first time the Clippers had a full roster with recent additions Marcus Morris Sr.and Reggie Jackson. Rivers started his league-leading 29th lineup on Monday, but he still believes this team, once healthy, can "win it."

"That has been the hand we've been dealt," Rivers said of the injuries before the game. "And we have to play that hand, and we can play that hand and still win it."

The Clippers have been inconsistent and have lacked chemistry due to several injuries to key players throughout the season. They started the season with George making his way back from offseason surgeries on his shoulders. Leonard has rested for one game during back-to-back sets to manage a knee issue. Now they're incorporating two new pieces.

They have looked like a championship contender at times, such as when they've beaten the Los Angeles Lakers in both of their meetings, but they're also capable of being blown out, as they were by Sacramento and Memphis at home earlier this season.

Rivers was adamant in saying that the Clippers are not a "flip the switch" team that is going through the motions in some games and can turn it on when it wants to.

"I would say anyone who says that doesn't know what they're talking about," Rivers said of the Clippers. "Because flip the switch teams are teams that have been healthy all year and just have chosen not to play. But when you are out of sorts with different lineups, that's different."

With 25 games remaining in the season, the Clippers know they're running out of opportunities to develop chemistry and continuity for a considerable stretch of games before the postseason begins.

"We have a great mindset, we have a great approach, [but] if we're serious about this, we gotta show it," George said. "We gotta show it and start to work toward this now. And Coach made a great comment of turning it on and thinking we can late in the season. We gotta do it now. There's gotta be some steps that we take if we're serious about our journey down the end of this year."
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