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Clippers' Paul George, encouraged by Ty Lue to lead, scores 40 wins

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SACRAMENTO — LA Clippers star guard Paul George was in the middle of a big second quarter when he said the technical foul had “increased my aggression.” He began to take his anger out on the Sacramento Kings.

George led the Clippers to a 111-109 win over the Kings at Golden 1 Center on Saturday and scored 40 points with six rebounds and six assists.

George believed the Kings were at hand and reported this to officials when the coach was called in with 2 minutes and 4 seconds left in the second quarter.

George said the absence of foul calls and a technical foul further fueled his score. “If anything happens, [was] right after I got angry about it. It definitely increased my aggression.”

The Clippers rested Kawhi Leonard and John Wall in the first game of a back-to-back set, as George scored 36 points in the final 31-plus minutes.

This is exactly what Clippers coach Ty Lue wanted to see from George. Earlier this month, George said that Leonard is the clear #1 choice on the team and #2 to show that there’s no ego involved. Lue praised seven-time All-Star and former MVP finalist George for setting a tone of sacrifice for the team.

But Lue wanted to make sure George wasn’t sitting in the “back seat” either, so she had a conversation with George before the regular season kicked off.

“I don’t think he needs to switch roles,” said Lue about George’s alternating between a complementary and leading role when Leonard was playing and not Leonard. “I think it has to be aggressive. I think it’s one-one, not one-two. These two guys need to produce and perform at a high level for us to win on both sides of the court.

“I talked to PG. He’s a great player, so you have to be aggressive and do what you’re doing. You can’t get in the back seat, you have to be aggressive.”

George said he understood Lue’s message to him.

“It was an easy conversation,” said George. “For me, I’m proud to be that guy who enjoys doing anything. I enjoy being that clingy guy and whatever the team or that game needs me to do, I will.

“I didn’t want anything to go into this year where people were saying that and saying that – if I [No.] 2, I’m fine [No.] 2. But I know what I can do. I know I can be the #1 choice overnight and the #1 choice for assets. I am very aware and very confident in my ability. As long as it means nothing to me. [No.] 2 men being [No.] 1 man [or] 1A being 1B. Whatever happens, I’ll go out and do my job.”

George told Sacramento he was motivated by his season-opening performance against the Los Angeles Lakers. George shot 4 to 12 on 15 points, 10 rebounds, but five turnovers and five fouls in a 103-97 win over the Lakers on Thursday.

He had four points and three assists in the first quarter for Sacramento, but his goals came alive in the middle of the second quarter. He scored 15 points at 7:22 in the first half, but after defending himself because a referee was fouled, the whistle for a technical foul was sounded.

“The players were holding me,” said George. “I was trying to make my case, what do you want me to do, hands on me and trying to get your hands off me.”

George scored 11 more in the third half before scoring 10 points in the final seven minutes to beat the Kings. After Sacramento cut the 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to five with 2:22 remaining, George scored two goals to increase the lead to nine.

“Kawhi is going to be a process,” Lue told George about his return after missing an entire season last season due to a tear in his right front ACL. “It will take some time before he gets back to the Kawhi we know.

“I thought tonight [George] he was aggressive, he thought it was great. … PG did a great job bringing us home.”