THUNDER: By George, he's not playing very well

AP Photo / Ringo H.W. Chiu

Oklahoma City Thunder's Paul George, top, and Los Angeles Clippers' Luc Mbah a Moute battle for a loose ball on the floor during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, in Los Angeles. Clipper won 108-92. Through two games, George is shooting just 32 percent from the floor.

All will be forgotten.

At 6 p.m. Sunday, when Sacramento and Oklahoma City tip off inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, the arena will be full, Loud City will be loud, the feel-goodness of a terrific offseason will be in full flower and, just maybe, Russell Westbrook will be in the starting lineup.

It slipped Friday he was back to practicing, though he was not made active for the Thunder’s 108-92 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

It’s the home opener and it’s bound to feel magical. Yet, if the Thunder do the same things they did at Golden State and L.A., it may not end magically.

A good first problem to solve is whatever’s in the head of Paul George, particularly as the Thunder begins games.

Last Tuesday he was 1 of 8 from the field in the first half in Oakland and Friday he was 2 of 11 in Los Angeles. Through two games, he’s made 16 of 50 shots overall and 7 of 23 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Effective field goal percentage takes into account the value of 3-point shots and even by that measure, George is failing to shoot even 42 percent. A year ago, though he shot just 43 percent from the field, his “effective” percentage was still 52.1 percent.

Not now.

Another bad stat?

Even though George leads the Thunder with 47 points through two games, his plus-minus is a combined minus-29 between the two games, meaning opponents have outscored the Thunder by 29 points when he’s been on the floor.

The poor shooting is actually the continuation of a trend that began at the end of last season.

George shot 45.8 percent from the field last March, yet that number slipped to 38.3 percent in April and 40.4 percent in May. In OKC’s lone playoff series, against Utah, George made 40.8 percent of his shots.

In both games this season, he appeared to be forcing difficult shots early, perhaps feeling the responsibility of being the only superstar on the floor in Westbrook’s absence.

Whatever, coach Billy Donovan didn’t like the way the Thunder offense worked against the Clippers.

“Our offense did not help our defense at all tonight,” he told afterward. “We did nothing to help our defense. We were way too easy to guard. The ball never moved.”

Making matters worse, point guard Dennis Schroder was as ineffective as George, making just 2 of 15 shots. He delivered eight assists. He also finished minus-18 during his 30 minutes on the floor.

There were a few strong performances: Steven Adams with 17 points and 18 rebounds; Nerlens Noel with nine points on 4 of 5 shooting and five rebounds in only 15 minutes; Raymond Felton with 12 points and three assists in 18 minutes and a plus-2 on a night his team lost by 16.

However, it was nowhere near enough to overcome the difficulties of George and Schroder.

Tonight, perhaps, they get help.

Or get better.

Game 3

Sacramento at Oklahoma City

Time: 6 p.m. Sunday

Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena

Records: Kings 0-2, Thunder 0-2


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