Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George (L), shown Dec. 4, 2021, averaged 24.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game this season. File Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE
April 15 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Friday night's play-in game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank confirmed that George entered the NBA's health and safety protocols due to the positive test result. Frank said George started to feel unwell Thursday, and his test results came back positive Friday morning.
"We feel very bad for Paul," Frank told reporters. "This is another challenge for our group. ... We've dealt with challenges all year."
It is a significant blow to the Clippers, who are attempting to clinch the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The winner of the elimination game between the Clippers and Pelicans advances to the first round for a matchup against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns.
George was sidelined for three months with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. In total, he missed 51 games this season, with the Clippers posting a 24-27 record in his absence. Los Angeles had an 18-13 mark with him in the lineup.
He missed one of the Clippers' regular-season contests against the Pelicans, which New Orleans won by 24 points.
The 31-year-old George returned and competed in five regular-season games after his extended layoff. The Clippers have won six of their past eight matchups with a healthy George in the lineup.
The seven-time NBA All-Star selection averaged 24.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game this season. He compiled 34 points, seven boards and five assists in the Clippers' 109-104 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday in the play-in game for the No. 7 seed.