Paul George says OKC Thunder’s Big 3 ‘officiated differently’ than other stars

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Following the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s 112-105 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday, Paul George said he, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony are “officiated differently” than other stars in the NBA.

“It’s tough. We’re so aggressive; we play at the rim constantly,” George said. “We’re just officiated differently, all three of us. And it’s tough. At least one of us [should] get the benefit of the doubt. But when we’re on that floor no one is getting the better side of that whistle. But we’re going to keep attacking, we’re going to keep being aggressive. That’s our job, to put pressure on them. At some point it’s gotta work out for us.”

George was demonstrative talking with the officials a number of times after driving at the basket with contact and no call. Westbrook, George and Anthony combined for nine free throws, with Westbrook taking two and Anthony taking none.

“Yeah, I do. I do,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said when asked if he sees George not getting a lot of calls. “Same thing with Russell, too. Those guys are aggressive players and listen, there are calls that are missed, there just are. He’s gotten fouled, and he’s not getting to the line. I think the same thing can be said for Russell. And I’m not trying to get into, like, every single play call, but as much as those two guys are in the lane, they need to be at the free throw line more than they’re at the free throw line, in my opinion.”

George, Westbrook and Anthony are all getting to the free throw line at lower rates than in recent seasons, with Anthony seeing the most significant drop-off at only 2.8 a game after averaging 7.0 for his career. Westbrook’s free throw rate is the second lowest of his career, while George’s is in line with his career average.

George was fined $15,000 in November for comments about officiating similar to what he said Monday.

“Every night, we haven’t been getting the benefit of the doubt,” George said Nov. 5 after playing the Portland Trail Blazers. “I don’t know what it is, especially for Russ. He attacks the basket, and so many of his plays at the rim are questionable, and he’s not getting the benefit of the doubt.”

George’s comments on Monday came after LeBron James was critical of officiating after a loss Sunday to the San Antonio Spurs, when he said shooters are “protected” over aggressive rim attackers.

“We’re at a point now where we protect the shooter more than the driver,” James told reporters. “There’s no reason I should be going to the line four times in a game when I drive 100 times to the paint and I’m getting hit and slapped and grabbed and whatever and whatnot. We protect the shooter. That’s what it’s turned into. ‘Chicks dig the long ball,’ and that’s what it’s about.”

George finished with 26 points, hitting 6-of-7 from the line, to lead the Thunder to a bounce-back win after getting blown out by the Warriors on Saturday. Anthony struggled, scoring 9 points on 4-of-15 shooting, while Westbrook notched a first for his career — the only time he has ever come up short on a triple-double because of points (8 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists).

“No, honestly a lot of things I didn’t think would happen [in my life],” Westbrook said when asked if he ever thought points would be the culprit for missing a triple-double. “Me standing here talking to y’all I didn’t think would happen. I’m just blessed, man, to be able to play, have fun and win. Yeah, that’s it.”

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