Thunder carry four-game skid, ailing George into contest vs. Grizzlies
The Oklahoma City Thunder have matched their season-worst losing streak of four games.
And it appears the Thunder will once again be without All-Star forward Paul George when they attempt to end the slide with Sunday's home matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.
George has missed the past two games with an ailing right shoulder and Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan isn't counting on seeing him in uniform against the Grizzlies.
"I'd say right now that until I hear something otherwise from our medical staff, I would say that he's probably out tomorrow unless something changes from now until tomorrow," Donovan told reporters after Saturday's 116-102 road loss against the San Antonio Spurs. "I haven't been told he's out. That's just my guess."
Donovan said George shot the ball on Saturday but didn't know how George's shoulder responded.
The Thunder certainly didn't respond well to the absence of George -- the Western Conference Player of the Month for February -- in the loss to the Spurs.
The defense was shaky while allowing 72 first-half points, and the 3-point shooting was suspect (7 of 29).
"Next man has to step up," shooting guard Terrance Ferguson said after the loss. "We can't make excuses for him being out or if he's here or not. No matter what, we have to play basketball. That's what we're here for. But his defensive presence is big for us."
Perhaps the positive side of the equation is that the Grizzlies are the next opponent.
The Thunder have won the past eight games in the series and have won seven straight against Memphis in Oklahoma City, including a 117-95 win on Feb. 7.
Then again, it might not be such a good time to see the Grizzlies after they trampled the host Dallas Mavericks 111-81 on Saturday. The 30-point margin of victory was Memphis' best of the season.
The Grizzlies held the Mavericks to 32 second-half points in the convincing triumph.
"We have to get stops in order to get the ball on the other end," shooting guard Avery Bradley said afterward. "We were making the extra pass. We knew if we knocked down shots, we'd give ourselves a chance."
Six Memphis players scored in double digits with the big man duo of Jonas Valanciunas and Joakim Noah being vital components.
Valanciunas had 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting and collected 10 rebounds, while Noah had 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists in just 17 minutes off the bench.
"They're beasts and they give you two different looks," veteran swingman C.J. Miles told reporters after the win. "Jonas, you throw it down there to him and he gets you buckets and he screens well. Noah on the other side facilitates, he gets the ball moving and he screens and rolls. They are two different monsters and they both play with a lot of energy."
Grizzlies small forward Justin Holiday left in the first quarter with a right knee injury. His status for the game will be determined Sunday.
Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook had a triple-double (15 points, 15 assists, 13 rebounds) in the recent victory over Memphis. He has 25 triple-doubles on the season.
Westbrook didn't get one against the Spurs as he had 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. He is 15 of 41 from the field -- including 2 of 14 from 3-point range -- in the two games George has missed.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 3, 2019