Russell Westbrook on Paul George snub: 'I think it's just outrageous'

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Thunder forward Paul George was among the most notable snubs when the 2018 All-Star Game reserves were announced Tuesday, an omission that left teammate Russell Westbrook stunned and frustrated.

"Unbelievable. I think it's just outrageous, in my opinion," Westbrook said, demonstrably closing his eyes and shaking his head. "I don't know who else made the team but got four people from one team, you've got guys complaining about getting snubbed until they get in, you've got guys just talking about it all the time.

"But the guys that deserve it -- should be in -- are not. I just don't understand. Doesn't make any sense."

Westbrook was referencing the Golden State Warriors, who had four players named to the All-Star team (Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green), and presumably Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who has been vocal about his desire to make the team after perceived snubs in past seasons.

"Guy leads the league in steals, competes every night, top two at his position. Don't make any sense, regardless of anything else," Westbrook, who was named to his seventh All-Star Game, said of George. "If you're going by All-Stars, there are certain All-Stars in this league. Everybody's not an All-Star. Just because you get voted in doesn't mean you're an All-Star. I just think it's outrageous. But you know, it is what it is."

Reserves were announced about an hour before the Thunder took on the Nets, with George blitzing Brooklyn in the first quarter with 16 points.

"It wasn't going to put me in a funk or cause me to be in a lost place or a sunken place," George said. "I didn't make All-Star. It is what it is. I've got a longer break in between the season now."

As the rest of the Thunder struggled with miserable shooting in the first half, George carried the team, keeping the score close until Westbrook took over late and hit a driving layup with 3.3 seconds left to give the Thunder a 109-108 win, their fifth straight.

George finished with 28 points and nine rebounds.

"I wish I was an All-Star to whoever made the list, but I wasn't an All-Star, apparently, and life goes on," said George, a four-time selection for the All-Star Game.

George pointed out that it was probably "easier" to make the All-Star team when he and Thunder teammate Carmelo Anthony were in the Eastern Conference, because they were "pretty much putting the team on our backs, night in and night out."

"When I came here, it's bigger dreams and bigger goals," George said. "And what I've got to look forward to is winning a championship."

George leads the league in deflections, and he has established himself as a contender for NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Meanwhile, he is averaging 20.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan offered his take on George not making the All-Star team.

"I'm really disappointed, and my comments aren't to take anything away from any player, but to me, he's one of the best players in this league," Donovan told ESPN. "He's played as one of the best players in the league. He may be the best two-way player in the league. He's even a better person, and I know that has nothing to do with the All-Star ballot, but I was just disappointed, because if they're picking the 12 elite players in the West, 12 elite in the East, he is without question one of the 12 elite players in the West."

Also sitting out this All-Star Game -- for the first time since 2010 -- is Anthony, breaking a streak of eight straight selections.

"I don't think there's any disappointment for me," said Anthony, a 10-time All-Star. "Coming here, I knew it would be a sacrifice. It was a full sacrifice for me, it wasn't a half-sacrifice, so this actually part of that sacrifice. No hard feelings for me. I get to enjoy that week with my family, so I'm actually looking forward to that."