There was an item in the paper this morning about how Paul George was so great. I don’t know if they thought it has jinx potential, but I’m here to tell you that it didn’t have any effect: George was legitimately great tonight. The Thunder bottled him up effectively in the first half, holding him to six Thabo Sefolosha did the best job of containing George but that wasn’t going to last, and Frank Vogel decided to leave George in as long as possible.
“As long as possible” proved to be until the 6:41 mark, when Vogel found a spare towel on the bench and threw it in. At the time, George had 32 points on 9-17 shooting, including 4 of 6 for distance, and OKC was up by 19. Scott Brooks pulled Batman and Robin a couple minutes later, and it then became a question of who among the reserves might do something interesting. The much-traveled Rasual Butler, a favorite at this desk while he was at New Orleans while New Orleans was, um, here, hit two of three treys; Perry Jones III emerged from the shadows and went 3-3; and the Thunder pocketed a 118-94 win over one of the NBA’s premier defensive outfits.
Maybe the Pacers needed a couple more Georges. David West and Roy Hibbert got into double figures, but just barely, and Hibbert, who can outblock anyone, went swatless. The Thunder outrebounded Indiana, 46-29, and outshot them, 61 percent to 40. OKC moved the ball like crazy 27 assists, including 13 from Russell Westbrook while the Pacers could manage only 13 in aggregate.
Meanwhile, Westbrook was piling up 26 points, and Kevin Durant, brought back at precisely the time George was making his biggest splash, put together an even better line: 36 points on 14-23 shooting and 10 rebounds. And this was a night for Kendrick Perkins to stand there and say No, which he did with considerable alacrity: 22 minutes, about half again his usual, six points, seven boards and two blocks. Speaking of blocks, Serge Ibaka had but the one tonight; but he knocked down 13 points in a mere eight shots.
This is a single-game homestand; the Thunder are off to Atlanta on Tuesday, followed by Memphis on Wednesday. Both can be expected to offer resistance.