Paul George wants NBA to look at why Clippers aren’t getting calls from officials
Though the Clippers haven’t strung consecutive victories in more than one month, they see consistency in at least one area.
After a 105-89 loss Wednesday at Dallas in which the Clippers repeatedly attacked the paint when their league-leading three-point shooting misfired, all-star Paul George expressed disbelief that the Clippers took only 11 free throws and added he wanted the team to send video to the NBA’s league office.
Forty-six drives led to six free throws against the Mavericks, according to tracking data. Their free-throw rate of 6.9% ranked in the second-lowest percentile of games this season, according to advanced stats site Cleaning The Glass.
“We’re putting a lot of pressure at the rim, it’s insane that we’re not getting these calls,” George said. “But it is what it is, it’s nothing new to me. Hopefully we’ll send a bunch of clips in. League’s gotta take a look at this.”
George described the conversations he had with officials Wednesday as “just a bunch of lies.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, NBA teams have adjusted their routines, particularly practice, which has led to a lack of continuity this season.
“Can’t go too much further than that, it’s a bunch of lies, they know what’s going on,” he said.
George’s frustration over perceived non-calls has been building throughout his second season with the Clippers. After a February loss to Brooklyn he said it was “disrespectful that I had one free throw attempt” after “the amount of plays I initiated or created contact.”
After a loss at Milwaukee later that month, he felt the Clippers had done enough to warrant more than seven free throws, considering the Bucks took 22.
“At the end of the day, I am used to this,” he said after a March 11 victory against Golden State. “I have never gotten calls in my career.”
While shooting a career-high 44% on three-pointers and 51% inside the arc — George’s best accuracy there since his rookie season — he’s averaged 4.0 free throws per game, his fewest since the 2014-15 season.
“Our job is to be aggressive, attack, we can’t do much more than that, right?” George said. “If they not gonna call it, they not gonna call it, and that’s the sad part about it because we’re not flopping players, we’re not players that’s like throwing our bodies into other players — like we play physical, no different than any other player in this league, you know?
“There’s nothing more that we can do. We’re attacking, we’re putting pressure at the rim. Again, there’s nothing that I feel, unless we just start, you know, just diving and playing a flopping game ... there’s really nothing much that we can do.”
The Clippers lead the NBA in free-throw accuracy but rank 24th in offense derived from free throws as they’ve relied more on mid-range jumpers and kick-outs for three-pointers than drives ending at the rim. They rank 23rd in drives and, perhaps not surprisingly, 20th in free throws generated from them.
“Reggie [Jackson] pushes the pace for us, but I think we just, as a team, I’m not much of a fast-paced player, Kawhi’s not much of a fast-paced player, so it’s something that together, we gotta make up,” George said. “We just don’t have that, as a team, in our DNA right now.”
One drive, and missed dunk in traffic, by Kawhi Leonard led to a review “for 30 minutes, it seemed like,” Leonard said. “Everybody seen him hit my hands so I don’t know.”
Since a four-game winning streak ended Feb. 15, the Clippers are 0-6 following a victory, and that inconsistency has been attributable to factors beyond whistles. Wednesday’s game was the second straight played without starters Serge Ibaka (lower back tightness) and Patrick Beverley (right knee soreness).
Coach Tyronn Lue applauded his team’s defensive tenacity outside of its job against Luka Doncic (42 points), a sentiment Leonard echoed, yet their 114.4 defensive rating since Feb. 15 ranks 24th — nine spots lower than their season average.
Their offense was the culprit against Dallas. Although there was a focus on the free throws they didn’t take, there were also plenty of shots within their control they didn’t make, including going six-of-24 from three on attempts deemed either open or wide open by league tracking data.
“We had our fair share of looks to win this game,” George said. “We just missed a lot of easy opportunities that we did have.”
Some of those missed opportunities spoiled the few attempts they had at the free-throw line. The Clippers (26-16) made six of their 11 there.
“I’ll take the lead on that one, being my fault,” Leonard said. “We just got to keep going, got to keep pushing, don’t worry about it and just play stronger and make those layups and those floaters that we’re trying to get to.”
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