The Staples Center erupted in boos as Paul George’s name was announced before the Oklahoma City Thunder faced the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
Two seasons ago, George all but ensured the Lakers organization that he’d take his talents back home, but a blockbuster trade from Indiana to OKC that was supposed to be a short layover turned out to be an extended stay for the NBA All-Star. Lakers fans were salty in his return to LA. Not only did he lead the organization on by announcing previously that he intended to be in Southern California by this year, but he didn’t even give them a meeting. That’s business, but that left a sour taste in the mouth of Lakers fans.
Paul George on his foul troubles in the first quarter.
I gotdinged tonight, right? I don’t know. I’ve never heard refs call a foul on somebody and almost like tryto rub it in my face by saying ‘good call.’ I’ve never heard of that. I don’t know. It was weird. It was a weird start to tonight. The calls that were being called. It was weird. But we got the win, I stayed in it and we kept fighting.
George felt the crowd’s wrath in the first quarter and simply tried to do too much. He calmed down through the course of the game and was the star of the night en route to OKC’s 107-100 win against their Western Conference counterpart.
Every time George touched the ball, there were boos, and he could feel every one of them. He wasn’t getting quality shots on offense and was too overzealous on defense, so much so that he was benched at the just nine minutes into the game due to three fouls. He was also 2-6 from the field during that stretch.
The Thunder weathered the storm, holding even with the Lakers in the first quarter because LA struggled shooting the ball as well. By the second quarter, the Thunder and better yet, George started to find their shot. The problem was that the Lakers found their shot as well.
The show in Hollywood began, Westbrook was aggravated one play, swatting water bottles off the scorer’s table, then playing the air guitar five minutes later as he watched George start to take over, scoring 13 of his 37 points in the second quarter. George’s personality doesn’t seem reflective of a guy that enjoys the bright lights, but it’s safe to say he’s built for it.
As the fireworks continued with Lance Stephenson pelvic thrusting and more after one of his patented flashy fast-breaks resulting in an even flashier pass, George continued to rise to the occasion on both ends of the floor.
OKC took a 59-57 halftime lead and things seemed to be going the right way for George’s squad.
Then the third quarter happened. Despite George going 5-of-11 for 11 points, the Thunder just weren’t getting shots to fall, scoring only eight. Westbrook struggled shooting for the entire game but that third quarter was especially bad, shooting 1-of-8 from the field. The third quarter was abysmal for Oklahoma City and suddenly the game felt like Dec. 30 in Dallas.
After getting outscored 25-19 in the third, the Thunder started to heat up in the fourth and George just had to maintain what he did in the previous two quarters. Lucky for him, his team started to step up (not speaking of Westbrook in the scoring department), but Abdel Nader’s 10 points and the bench stepped up when it mattered, assisting in the sealing the deal for OKC.
George’s nonchalant personality serves him well in situations like these. Early on he seemed shocked more than anything but once he settled down, George took this game over on both ends of the floor. George, who should be an MVP candidate scored 37 points on 15-of-29 shooting (51.7 percent) and added four rebounds and four steals to knock off the Lebron-less Lakers.
Why are people still debating whether or not George is an MVP candidate?