Paul George participated in his first LA Clippers practice in more than three months Thursday as he tries to return prior to the start of the postseason.
The Clippers said George, who has not played since Dec. 22, is in the next phase of his rehab program as he recovers from a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He remains out for Friday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
George was cleared for practice after participating in a 4-on-4 drill with minimal contact against Clippers coaches on Sunday.
“He is doing good,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said prior to Thursday’s practice. “He hasn’t felt any pain so that is a positive thing. Just working on his conditioning and just making sure he can continue to go through the minimal contact without having any issue. So as of right now, it hasn’t been a problem.”
Around the All-Star break, George was seen shooting with his left hand from short range on the team’s practice court. Earlier this month, George was seen shooting with his right hand.
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The Clippers, who are in eighth place in the Western Conference standings, could get some much-needed reinforcements for the play-in tournament.
Norman Powell, who has been limited to three games after being acquired before the trading deadline, has begun shooting on the court with the team this week. Powell, who had a fracture in a bone in his left foot, has yet to be cleared for contact practice, Lue said.
With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Clippers (36-38) hope to reduce the minutes for veterans Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris and Nic Batum before the play-in tournament
Lue said his preference is to see any of his injured players return for at least one regular season game before the postseason begins. The coach also said Monday that if any of the injured Clippers are medically cleared to play in the postseason, they’ll play.
So while the Clippers have not provided an update on Kawhi Leonard, who continues to work his way back from a torn right ACL injury suffered last June, Lue is keeping the door open for Leonard, George and Powell even if they don’t return by the end of the regular season.
“Hell yeah, I keep it open,” Lue said Monday. “… To hit the playoffs going at 100, from zero to 100, that is pretty tough. But if the medical guys say they are cleared and they are able to do that, that is totally up to them.”
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