The picture that is forming of the Los Angeles Clippers’ internal chemistry after their playoff collapse is not a pretty one.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Paul George and Montrezl Harrell got into a verbal confrontation during a timeout in Game 2 that saw Harrell call out George. It was a key incident that demonstrated that Clippers players were never quite on the same page.
George committed two turnovers in less than a minute in that game. The second was a careless half-court pass to Harrell, who was surrounded in the paint. On the way to the huddle during a timeout, Harrell approached George about the pass, but George blamed Harrell and said the pass could have been caught had the big man made the right play.
That infuriated Harrell, who called out George by saying something similar to “you’re always right. Nobody can tell you nothing.” A heated argument followed with both players using expletives, and Harrell did not calm down even after George backed off a bit.
George in particular seemed to respond to the Clippers’ predicament differently than many of his teammates. His comments after Game 7 were, according to Haynes, not shared by the rest of the Clippers. George also continued his brutal record in elimination games with a 10-point performance in the decisive Game 7.
Perhaps things will be better for the Clippers in year two of the George-Kawhi Leonard era. Maybe they’ll have addressed the issues that need to be fixed. It’s a big worry, however, and it’s far from the only issue this team faces.
Paul George had one of his worst games of the postseason when the Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. Going ice cold in an elimination game is never ideal, but unfortunately it’s something George has grown accustomed to.
George scored just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting. He was 2-of-10 from three-point range. As ESPN’s Royce Young noted, George has not played well at all in the last five games in which his team was facing elimination.
Paul George's last five facing elimination games: – 15 points on 5-21 shooting (lost) – 34 points on 12-26 (won) – 5 points on 2-16 (lost) – 36 points on 14-20 (lost) – 10 points on 4-16 (lost)
George was extremely open about the mental struggles he went through early in the playoffs this year, which led to less-than-stellar play. He appeared to turn things around at one point, but he shot less than 40 percent from the field overall in the postseason. That is one of the reasons the Clippers fell so far short of expectations.
Paul George’s quote after the Los Angeles Clippers lost Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Tuesday night should be alarming to fans.
George shot terribly and was just 4-for-16 in the Clippers’ 114-89 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 7. The Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead and multiple large leads in closeout games before rolling over in the fourth quarter on Tuesday.
The team never seemed to have urgency during the regular season or in the series against Denver, and that was reflected in George’s attitude.
“I think internally, we always felt this is not a championship-or-bust year for us,” George said after the game. “We can only get better the longer we stay together, the more we’re around each other. The more chemistry for this group, the better. We just didn’t have enough time together.”
That is a major issue.
This team was put together with the intention of winning a championship. The Clippers gave up loads of players and draft picks to get George from Oklahoma City and convince Kawhi Leonard to sign with them. They built a nice supporting cast as well. To see them go out in the conference semifinals and then say they didn’t have a championship-or-bust mentality is a problem.
The Clippers shouldn’t be taking anything for granted or acting like there will be plenty of other opportunities. That is how teams end up surpassing you.
Clippers’ Paul George on title expectations after Game 7 loss to Nuggets: “The fact of the matter is we didn’t live up to that expectation. But I think internally we’ve always felt this is not a ‘championship or bust’ year for us. … We just didn’t have enough time together.” pic.twitter.com/4OwZu036S3
Lou Williams and Paul George both pointed to the team’s chemistry as an issue for the Los Angeles Clippers in their early playoff loss this season.
The Clippers lost 104-89 to the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Tuesday night. The Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead and choked in the fourth quarter with just 15 points in Game 7.
The disappointing Game 7 and season left the Clippers answering questions after the loss. The team’s lack of chemistry was a major talking point.
“We came up short. We did have championship expectations. We had the talent to do it. I don’t think we had the chemistry to do it and it showed,” Williams said after the game. “We had lapses on defense and on offense. I think guys have played in systems where they were expecting guys to be in certain spots offensively. A lot of different guys made adjustments. It showed. But at the end of the day we were up 3-1 … we should have closed this deal out. You give credit to Denver. We take our lumps and keep moving.”
George pointed to the same issue.
“First year together … we can’t even say we want to change our roster; we like what we got. We’ve been saying it all year: just chemistry, being together. The more we’re together, the better we will be. It’s year one, year one. We’ve got a lot to reflect on.”
Head coach Doc Rivers brought up the team’s lack of continuity.
Doc Rivers said he felt that multiple Clipper players missing time outside the bubble hurt the team's continuity and conditioning. He said several players were visibly gassed in Game 7, which isn't usually the case under normal circumstances.
Kawhi Leonard said repeatedly Clippers have to get smarter: "That’s when it comes to the team chemistry, knowing what we should run to get the ball in spots or just if someone’s getting doubled or they’re packing the paint…get smarter as a team. Basketball IQ got to get better"
The Clippers had their two star players join the team over the summer. The Kawhi Leonard and Paul George took turns missing games in the regular season. Other players missed games too. Then you had players in and out of the Orlando Bubble at times too, including one who got punished.
None of that stopped the Clippers from building a 3-1 series lead against Denver, but when the going get tough, it may have kept them from powering through.
The pressure is growing on the Los Angeles Clippers after another blown lead in Game 6, but Paul George is insisting that the mood is good.
The Clippers blew a 19-point second half lead, the second straight game they blew a huge lead in a closeout game. It means they will go to Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets, and given the circumstances, the pressure on the team to avoid a historic collapse will be huge.
According to George, the team’s mood is positive, and there’s no panic despite the nature of the back-to-back losses.
Paul George on the Clippers’ mood in the locker room: “We’re still in the driver’s seat. It’s no panic mode.”
The Clippers can still win Game 7 and essentially put this in the past. George is saying all the right things with that in mind. If they don’t, though, they will never live this down. They led by 16 in Game 5 and 19 in Game 6 and did not win either. This is a team built to win a title now. If they don’t — especially in this fashion — it will go down as one of the NBA’s more infamous playoff collapses.
George scored 33 points in the Game 6 loss, but was a -23. He’ll need to step up his all-around game like he did earlier in the series to push the Clippers past Denver in Game 7.
Paul George’s playoff struggles may be a thing of the past, and that is a problem for the rest of the league.
George scored 32 points in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 113-107 win over the Denver Nuggets in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Monday night. He made 12 of the 18 shots he took, including an impressive 5-for-7 performance on threes.
Paul George broke out with a big game on Tuesday night to give his Los Angeles Clippers a Game 5 win over the Dallas Mavericks, and that may be the turning point for him.
George led the Clippers with 35 points in a convincing 154-111 win over the Mavericks to take a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series.
After the game, George was interviewed by TNT’s Jared Greenberg and gave some incredibly raw answers.
“The bubble got the best of me,” George admitted. “I was just in a dark place. I really wasn’t here. I checked out. These past couple games, it was just difficult. But, shout out to the people who stood behind me, that was in my corner. The positivity, my family, friends. Everybody. Thank everybody that reached out to me.
“I was just in a bad place. I found my way, I’m back, and I look forward to the rest of this run,” he said.
George then expressed the difficulty of playing in the fan-less bubble atmosphere in Orlando.
“For me, it was just hard to get into that playoff mode with no intensity here, no fans, no atmosphere. I was lost. I thought we created the energy. I came in with that mindset that this is Staples, we at home, the place is packed. I really had to psych myself out to get up. I thought the whole team took it and ran with it, and we decided to dictate this game.”
Paul George offered a blunt assessment of his playoff struggles this year.
George has shot the ball poorly for the Los Angeles Clippers through four games against the Dallas Mavericks. He’s averaged just 11.3 points on 21 percent shooting, including 16 percent on threes, in the Clippers’ past three games.
George recognizes how much his poor play has hindered the team.
“To be honest, in hindsight, if I shoot the ball better, this series would be a lot different,” George said Sunday, via The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.
George gave credit to Luka Doncic for playing well and the Mavs’ for their defense.
“If I make shots this serious could be a little different. That’s the obvious of course and that’s just what it comes down to. But give them credit. They’re defending, they’re shooting the ball. Luka is playing phenomenal,” George said via Andrew Greif.
George shot 3-for-14 including 1-for-7 on threes during Sunday’s 135-133 loss to Dallas. He scored just nine points in 45 minutes.
Instead of going up 3-1 in the first-round playoff series, the Clippers are now tied 2-2 with the Mavericks. The Clippers got 32 points from Kawhi Leonard and 36 points from Lou Williams on Sunday. It was George who failed to deliver, and now he’s concerning himself with his haters.
Paul George on his Instagram post yesterday: “I think people get so caught up with what other people think. I’m Paul George. I don’t care to be anybody else. … I am who I am. You either love it or you don’t. Simple as that.”
Fair enough. It was down to George to respond after an underwhelming Game 2 that saw him go just 4/17 from the field. Game 3 was not much better, as George shot just 3/16 (18.8 percent) from the field while contributing only 11 points. However, unlike in Game 2, his Los Angeles Clippers managed to escape with a victory.
George still has plenty of skeptics out there. The Clippers can probably skate by the Mavericks without him at his best, but he’ll have to improve against better opponents. As long as he can do that, he’ll be able to silence his critics on the floor without resorting to social media posts.
Charles Barkley took a funny jab at Paul George on Friday night.
Barkley has been unimpressed by George’s play in the postseason so far and mocked the Los Angeles Clippers forward’s nickname.
When he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018, George was asked about guarding Donovan Mitchell in the playoffs. He shrugged off the assignment as no big deal, saying you haven’t met “Playoff P” yet.
Paul George on guarding Donovan Mitchell: “Y’all ain’t net Playoff P yet, huh? …It’s a fun guy to watch. It’s an out-of-body person.” pic.twitter.com/tL0rc8LEw7
Barkley decided to use that as part of a joke, saying you can’t call yourself “Playoff P” and lose all the time. He even poked fun at himself over his lack of championships, saying they don’t call him “Championship Chuck.”
George is off to a sub-par start through three games this postseason. He’s averaging 17.3 points on 29.3 percent shooting. George’s teams have not made it past the first round of the playoffs for three years in a row, though many factors contributed to those outcomes. Still, it gave Barkley a chance to crack a joke, which he’s been doing very well lately.