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Paul George responds to struggles – ‘I’m no James Harden’

Paul George, James Harden, Clippers, Rockets

Paul George has been unable to find his shooting stroke over the last couple of games for the LA Clippers, but he’s done just enough for his team to take a 2-1 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks.

The Clippers defeated the Mavs on Friday night, 130-122, but George suffered through another horrific shooting night. George, a six-time All-Star, finished Game 3 with just 11 points on 3-of-16 shooting from the field and 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. He did, however, add in nine rebounds, seven assists, and two steals in his 38 minutes of play. After the game, George addressed his shooting struggles and what he can do when his shots aren’t falling.

“I’m no James Harden,” George responded when asked about taking pride in impacting the game outside of the scoring column. “That’s not my knack, to just shoot the ball, score the ball. I can, and I pride myself on being effective on both ends, but there are going to be nights like this where I just can’t make a shot and I can’t allow that to affect my game. I still got to be aggressive and still try to make plays. I will do everything I can to win a ballgame. Some nights are just going to be like that, I am not going to make shots, but I’ve got to find a way to make an impact.”

The biggest thing that sticks out is George naming Harden, which many might take as a slight because that’s the more fun narrative to run with. However, Paul George is right. He’s not the prolific scorer that James Harden currently is on a night-to-night basis, nor is he being asked to be. George is tasked with helping the Clippers offensively, but is also being asked to defend at a high level, rebound, and occasionally create for his teammates, among other things.

And it’s not like George isn’t getting any good looks, either. According to NBA.com/stats, George is just 3-of-14 on open shots (defined as having closest defender be four-to-six feet away while in the act of shooting) and 0-of-7 on wide open shots (defined as having closest defender be more than six feet away while in the act of shooting). In watching the film, George is simply missing the open looks that he’s been knocking down all season.

While he works through that, Paul George says he plans to continue being aggressive in other aspects of his game.

“I’m obviously struggling shooting, struggling scoring the ball, but it is what it is,” George added. “It didn’t affect us winning tonight so I am going to continue to just get lost in the game, whether I make shots or miss shots, I’m going to continue to be aggressive. Try to get guys looks. Just play the game.

“Shotmaking, I’ve always said, scoring the ball is not what I do. I try to do everything, I try to play the game the right way and just get lost in the game and try to pass the ball and make plays defensively, rebound. Just a little bit of everything. I am going through a tough time but good thing about it, we are up 2-1 in this series and I haven’t shot the ball well.”

George’s superstar teammate, Kawhi Leonard, had a dominant night scoring 35 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out eight assists. He isn’t worried about his teammate finding his shot as the series shifts to Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.

“Yeah we can,” Leonard responded when asked if the Clippers can continue to win as George struggles. “We’re confident. It’s gonna turn around for him. We got his back.

“He’s good. We all start from scratch again Game 4. You shoot 100% from three in two games, three games, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to shoot well going forward. It’s all from scratch again. This is playoff basketball. He’s a confident player, he’s going to turn it around.”

Doc Rivers, Paul George, Clippers

LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers also preached patience with George as he finds his shooting stroke again.

“I’m not worried about it,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s a great player. He’s human. I can guarantee you this, he has not forgotten how to shoot. It will fall for him.”

George got off to a hot start this postseason, scoring 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting from the field in Game 1. In the last two games, George is a combined 7-of-33 from the field and 3-of-18 from beyond the arc.

Following Game 2, George took to Instagram and posted a NFSW message for his critics. George expounded on the message he was trying to relay on Friday night.

“I think people get so caught up what other people. I’m Paul George. I don’t care to be anybody else. and people need to live by that. I’m not a big social media guy. I don’t post much. I am who I am, you either love it or you don’t. Simple as that.”

It’s a good sign that the Clippers have been able to win games, or at least stay within striking distance, when George is struggling to score. Eventually, he’s going to need to find that shot again. The Clippers aren’t worried, and they shouldn’t be yet, but it’s about that time for ‘Playoff P’ to show everyone that he can show up in the big moments.