Paul George’s return to Indiana wasn’t exactly a cordial affair.
George spent seven seasons with the Pacers, but forced an offseason trade after informing the franchise — through his agent — that he would not re-sign with the team when he became a free agent next summer. George landed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who visited Bankers Life Fieldhouse Wednesday night.
George, a four-time all-star, was not greeted warmly, beginning with a round of boos during pregame introductions.
And that was just the start. George heard it from the fans, who are upset about the way George left the franchise, every single time he touched the basketball throughout the game. He didn’t have his best game, either. In 33 minutes, George had just 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting. However, it was George who hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal a 100-95 win for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder twice led by as much as 11 in the fourth quarter, but Indiana clawed back to within two on back-to-back buckets by Victor Oladipo, who landed with the Pacers in the George deal. An iffy blocking foul overturned from a charge put Thaddeus Young at the line with a chance to tie the score with 40 seconds remaining, but he split the free throws.
From there, OKC built its lead back to three on a late shot clock tip-in from Alex Abrines with 15 seconds to go, but Indiana still had a chance to tie the game. That’s when George corralled a loose ball on a Young turnover and capped off the victory at the free-throw line.
The Thunder, now 13-14, have been one of the more disappointing teams in the league even after acquiring George and Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks to play with MVP Russell Westbrook. Those two didn’t give George a ton of help in his homecoming, shooting a combined 7-of-31 for 22 points (though Westbrook did register another triple-double), but center Steven Adams had a big game, chipping in a game-high 23 points to go with 13 boards.
After going a dreadful 4-9 in November, OKC has won five of its first seven in December. A trip to Philadelphia comes next on Friday before another homecoming: Anthony’s return to Madison Square Garden to face the Knicks on Saturday.
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