After shooting 3-for-16 from the field, including 1-for-8 on 3-point attempts, in the Clippers’ 130-122 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of their first-round Western Conference series Friday night, George admitted he’s mired in a shooting slump. But he says his skill set has never been as just a scorer and shooter. George said he has to try “to do everything” he can on defense and other areas after finishing with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
“I’m no James Harden,” George said of how he tries to impact the game on both ends of the floor. “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’s going to be nights like this where I just can’t make a shot, and I can’t allow that to affect my game.”
“Shot-making … scoring the ball is not what I [only] do,” he added. “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 has shot 7-for-33, including just 3-for-18 from beyond the arc, in the past two games combined. The Clippers lead the Mavericks 2-1 in their best-of-seven series, which is all that matters to George. But he knows his shooting and scoring, particularly in the clutch during the playoffs, can be a trigger for many of his critics.
“I think people get so caught up what other people [think],” George said. “I’m Paul George. I don’t care to be anybody else.”
“I am who I am,” George added. “You [can] love it or you don’t. Simple as that.”
In November, George hit a 3 with 25.9 seconds left in a 90-88 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. At that point, George had made four go-ahead 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds of a fourth quarter or overtime since the start of the 2018-19 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Prior to that stretch, George was 1-for-12 on such 3-point attempts in his career.
In his first postseason with the Clippers, George made 10 of 22 shots and scored 27 points in a Game 1 win. But he shot 23.5% in Game 2 and 18.8% on Friday night in Game 3. This is the first time since 2011 — his rookie season — that he has shot below 30% in consecutive playoff games, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.
“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.”
Teammate Kawhi Leonard — who scored 36 points in Game 3 and is shooting 34-for-66 (51.5%) while averaging 33.3 points in this series — said George would snap out of his shooting funk.
“I mean, he’s good,” Leonard said. “We all start from scratch again Game 4. You shoot 100% from 3 in two games, three games, 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. We got his back.”
George said he planned on remaining aggressive on both ends and trying to impact the game in different areas.
“I’m obviously struggling shooting, struggling scoring the ball,” George said. “It didn’t affect us winning tonight.”
“I still got to be aggressive and still try to make plays,” he added. “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 got to find a way to make an impact.”