Paul George is well aware that Monday is it. It’s the last time that he will ever go against five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant — a player he idolized while growing up in nearby Palmdale, California — in a competitive game. (The two are each starters in the 65th annual NBA All-Star game slated for Sunday, Feb. 14.) For George, he’s thinking about one-upping the sure-thing Hall of Famer. “Honestly, try to go for 82 [points],” he said with a big grin. (Kobe’s 81-point game was 10 years ago.)
When Paul George is up in Toronto for All-Star Weekend 2016, he plans to carry a lighter schedule during a weekend that is anything but a “break” for NBA players. “I’m not doing any events,” George told this week. Previously, he has competed in the Slam Dunk Contest (2012, 2014), in addition to the Rising Stars Challenge (2012) and the All-Star Game (2013, 2014). “Cut down on appearances and not much endorsement stuff around All-Star Weekend this year,” he said. “That’s a good thing. Get the rest, and really it’s about the game on Sunday.”
“With the big lineup, being much more of a scorer with that group and then with the smaller lineups, being a creator,” George said. “We’ve got a lot of shooters and we’ve got guys that can make plays. So [being] another playmaker out there with those three other guys that are making plays on the perimeter, I think, is more the role that I take. And when we’ve got two bigs, being more of a scorer is the role that I take because I’ve got guys who can screen and set me up.” What George is lacking, he said, is consistency between the two. Some of that is tactical based on the opposing lineup. Some of it has been injuries. “We’ve had so many different lineups that it’s hard to get a chemistry and get a feel for one another, regardless of how much practice time you have,” Paul George said. “In games, it’s so much different.”