LA Clippers' Paul George tests positive for COVID-19, out for play-in game vs. New Orleans Pelicans

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- LA Clippers star Paul George has tested positive for COVID-19 and is out for the Friday night play-in game against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank confirmed that George entered the league's health and safety protocols.

This is a significant blow to the Clippers, who lose their star guard -- again -- as they try to clinch the No. 8 seed for the Western Conference playoffs in the elimination game vs. the Pelicans. The winner advances to a first-round matchup against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns.

"He's disappointed. He's down,'' coach Tyronn Lue said before the game. "I just told him, 'We've got to win this game for you.'''

Frank said that George did not feel well Thursday and underwent testing.

"This is another challenge for our group," Frank said at the team shootaround. "The group has dealt with challenges all year. We've had guys in and out of the lineup and dealt with overcoming large deficits and yet this group has always responded. A very resilient group. We have a great deal of faith and a talented and deep roster and have a great coach in Ty Lue."

When asked whether other Clippers players had to test and whether George will be out for a certain period of time, Frank said the team is following the NBA's lead when it comes to health and safety protocols.

"This is a challenge, but it has just been a series of challenges and may be fitting that this is a situation where all those reps and experiences that the group has had, they have been in these moments many, many times before this year."

The news was quick to impact the point spread of Friday night's game at sportsbooks, with the Clippers immediately going from 4-point favorites to 1-point underdogs against the Pelicans.

George was out for three months with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. In all, he missed 51 games this season, with the Clippers going 24-27 in his absence and 18-13 with him in the lineup.

He missed one of the Clippers' regular-season games against the Pelicans, which New Orleans won by 24 points.

George returned for five regular-season games after his long layoff, and the Clippers have won six of their past eight with a healthy George in the lineup.

He averaged 24.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists this season. He had 34 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the team's 109-104 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday in the play-in game for the seventh spot.

The Clippers are again without both of their stars. Kawhi Leonard remains out as he rehabs a torn ACL and has not played a single minute this season. Frank said there is still no timetable for Leonard's return.