The narrative of Paul George’s inability to knock down the big shot in crucial moments can be staved off — for now. The Thunder forward led his team to a 114-112 win over the Nets in Brooklyn with a blistering pull-up three with just over three seconds remaining in the game.
Paul George sinks 3 vs. nets With Three Seconds Left
Incredibly enough, George finished with 47 points, with 25 of them coming in the fourth quarter. Each bucket proved to be crucial, as the performance was in an effort to overcome a 23-point deficit erased by George and teammate Russell Westbrook, who passed Nets great Jason Kidd on the all-time triple-double list. The comeback was the largest in team history, as Oklahoma City trailed significantly for the majority of the game.
George built himself up to the level of the Nets almost singlehandedly, giving himself the opportunity to erase doubts of his ability to preform in the clutch, and further, to shatter the perception that he can’t make the big shot when it counts. George had gone 0-of-14 in his career on potential go-ahead shots in the final ten seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime prior to Wednesday night, which spurred a longtime string of jokes and criticisms aimed at George. To George, these discussions were just noise that never infiltrated his mindset.
He hadn’t lost confidence in his ability to close out games, and cemented his “Yeah, it felt good,” George said. “I had the hot hand, I knew I had the hot hand. I just felt good all game.”
Westbrook also played a significant role in George’s performance. He assured George that the game was his for the taking, and to keep his composure when it came down to it. “My job is to make sure that I constantly keep telling him to stay aggressive, to play his game, because he’s that type of guy, man,” Westbrook said. “He can get hot. He’s a superstar in this league; and as you seen tonight, when he gets hot, he can change the game for us.”
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Westbrook had a celebratory effort as well, as he recorded his 108th career triple-double, good for third all-time, finishing with 21 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds.
Westbrook, who said he was a fan of Kidd’s, was appreciative to be among such lauded ranks.”To be able to pass him is something I never even dreamed about, so just honored,” Westbrook said.
The Thunder’s next game is at Chicago on Friday night.