Less than 48 hours after the Indiana Pacers star challenged two more players in a postgame news conference, George fired back at the notion that he was not supportive of his team. “It’s complete ignorance, to be honest,” he said. “Everybody knows how close I am with my teammates and I said that only to motivate my teammates to win this series and win a championship. I didn’t say anything even close to throwing them under the bus. If I didn’t say nothing, it would have been another story.”
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The Pacers entered Tuesday in a three-way tie with the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks for fifth place in the East. Both teams moved ahead of the Pacers, the Bucks defeating the Charlotte Hornets and the Hawks knocking off Phoenix. The eighth-place Miami Heat, who own the tiebreaker over Indiana, also beat the Detroit Pistons to move one game behind the Pacers. “We should have a professional approach, man, and defend our home court, especially to a team that’s not even in the playoffs,” George said of losing to the Timberwolves (29-44). “That’s what it comes down to. As a team, we’ve got to have a grit and we’ve got to own up, man up.”
“It’s tough losing a game here that we need knowing that we don’t play well on the road,” George said. “When we lose focus here, I’m not sure where our head is going to be as a team tomorrow. I’ll make sure to gather these guys around and let them understand, man, that we’ve got to win. That’s the only thing that’s important. The only thing that should be motivational is winning.”
Nate Taylor: Paul George: “There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride. This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”
Nate Taylor: Paul George: “To be honest, man, I don’t think I got the ball enough down the stretch. I don’t think I got the ball enough.”
Sirius XM NBA: “I don’t listen to reports. He is our leader and we don’t sense the frustration.” -@Aaron Brooks on media reports on @Paul George’s frustration
A. Sherrod Blakely: Paul George says the @Indiana Pacers are a “playoff team” at home and a “lottery team” on the road this season. #Celticstalk pic.twitter.com/fukNuR3bwl
Team president Larry Bird spent much of the day weighing the option of trading George to the Boston Celtics, a team that possesses several rotational players and valuable draft picks, including the lowly Brooklyn Nets’ first-round picks in the next two drafts. Ultimately, Bird decided not to deal George with the hope the franchise can convince him to re-sign after his expected opt-out at the end of the 2017-18 season.
George, though, said he was not pleased that Bird considered trading him after previously vowing to sign George to a max contract. “I was kind of on the ropes just like you guys were on what was about to happen,” George said of his emotions before the deadline. “It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty and that was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, I thought I would have been in the loop a little more on that.”
Paul George: “I kind of was on the ropes, just like you guys were, on what was about to happen;’ George told reporters in Indianapolis. “It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, thought I would have been in the loop a little more on (trade talks).”
Not too long ago the Pacers were the main threat in the Eastern Conference to LeBron James’ Miami Heat, and Paul George was leading the way. But the roster that found success a few years ago is no more, and the team is on the fringe of the playoff picture instead of at the forefront. That kind of fall from grace can get to you, and George admitted Thursday it has. “[This season] hasn’t been [fun]. We’re trying to work through it,” George told reporters. “It’s been one of the most frustrating seasons I’ve been a part of.”
“Maybe I’m just living in the past of how good we used to be, the personnel, the guys I had around,” George said. “I’m still living in that moment, maybe. I gotta put myself into a different team and maybe I have to do more, maybe that’s just what it is, maybe I have to do more now. But whatever is, I’m going to figure it out.”
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November 23, 2017 | 2:19 am EST Update
After voicing his displeasure, Lillard was well aware his criticism would draw the ire of the league office and perhaps result in a fine. But he didn’t seem to care. When his postgame interview was over, he turned to CJ McCollum at the locker next to him and offered the following: “Go ahead and fine me,” he said. “I’ve got the check ready to go.”
Lillard scored 30 points, making 11 of 27 field goals, in the defeat. But despite his high volume of field goals, he attempted only three free throws, a fact that left him incredulous as he left Wells Fargo Center. “I got to the rim a lot,” Lillard said. “And I’m getting smacked in my head, smacked on my shooting hand when I’m going to the basket. Guys (are) knocking me to the ground every other play. Like hard. And (officials) know I’m trying to score. It’s impossible for me to shoot two or three free throws. It’s impossible. As much as I got to the rim and as much as they know that I’m trying to score, it’s impossible for me to get the (crap) beat out of me as often as I do.”
When asked if he felt he had earned the right to get the benefit of the doubt from officials at this stage of his career, Lillard scoffed. He said a foul is a foul, no matter who you are, and he simply wants officials to do their jobs. “I don’t want to look at it like, I’m this person or I’m that (so) you’re supposed to call these fouls,” he said. “I think a foul is a foul. I know it’s tough. They’ve got a tough job, man. But I’m not one of these guys out here trying to sell them on every call … I’m playing to score the ball. I ain’t trying to be out here hitting the ground every other play, because that’s not what I’m going out here trying to do. I’m not going to be falling out the air to get two free throws and hitting the ground the way I’m hitting the ground. I’m getting hit. I don’t want to keep doing it.”
The Sixers (10-7) scored the game’s first 16 points en route to their 101-81 decision Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center. The Blazers (10-8) posted season lows in total points and field-goal percentage (33.7). The Sixers allowed their lowest point total this season. “I thought our offense was a C-minus,” Brown said. “I thought our defense was an A, and we are looking for two As.” But he’s still going to cherish this victory. “I thought at times our offense was sloppy,” Brown said. “But we beat the fourth-best team in the West by 20 points. I’m greedy, but I ain’t stupid.”
Westbrook led the Thunder with 34 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Durant finished with 21 points and five rebounds. First, Durant and Westbrook appeared to exchange some words during the second quarter of OKC and Golden State’s first meeting of this season. After Westbrook forced a turnover, he was shown on the broadcast saying something as Durant walked away and laughed. Per reporters at the game, the Thunder guard made KD laugh by shouting or shaking his head “No” at the crowd.
Late in the second quarter, Westbrook denied a post entry into Durant and the ball sailed out of bounds. Westbrook turned to the Warriors’ bench and yelled, “No!” Durant pointed at Westbrook while just smiling. Westbrook was then fouled on the other end by Draymond Green. Green didn’t like the call, and he began clapping in the vicinity of Westbrook, and the reigning MVP began clapping back at him. The two had a few words before Westbrook went to the foul line to take his shots.
Halfway in, Westbrook was guarding Durant on the right wing and he almost stole the ball, slapping it out of bounds. The two began jawing at one another and inching closer. Soon, they were forehead to forehead, talking trash. Durant was seen saying, “You’re a p—y.” Westbrook responded, “You’re soft.”