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Paul George leads Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder with elite confidence

OKLAHOMA CITY — When you needed any extra proof that Paul George is feeling it on an entire different stage this season, look to the primary time beyond regulation of the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder’s recreation Friday evening in opposition to the Utah Jazz.

Down by two factors with three minutes to go, Thunder ahead Jerami Grant got here up with a steal and kicked a cross forward to George. A important layup was coming that may tie the sport and wrestle momentum again to the Thunder’s aspect.

However George didn’t full a layup. He timed up his steps, and with Derrick Favors trailing, George elevated and cranked his arm again. Some 51 minutes into the sport, he was going full windmill.

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Terrance Ferguson arms it off to Paul George who jams a ferocious windmill.

“That was a press release,” George stated. “That was a press release simply to allow them to know my legs is contemporary. It may be a protracted OT for that opposing staff.”

The ultimate assertion, although, got here with Zero.eight seconds left within the second time beyond regulation.

After pulling in a rebound, George introduced the ball up with the Thunder down by some extent and 10 seconds left. He remoted on Joe Ingles, dancing between him and the assistance of Ricky Rubio to then see Rudy Gobert ready. George had heard the Jazz bench all through the sport, imploring Gobert to take a cost on George, so anticipating Gobert laying again, George let go a moonshot floater. It left his hand with 2.5 seconds left and did not come down for almost two extra seconds.

“Needed to get it up there,” George stated. “It is a shot that I work on. Simply thank God it went in.”

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Paul George splits defenders and skies a floater over Rudy Gobert with lower than a second remaining to win it for the Thunder in double time beyond regulation.

It isn’t information to report that George has been on a brand new stage this season, with George himself saying that is the perfect basketball he has performed in his profession. He’s snug, he’s assured and he is fully in charge of the sport.

In opposition to the Jazz, George let it come to him.

Famous person teammate Russell Westbrook had his jumper and scoring contact going, however George hit the change within the fourth quarter with 17 factors. George completed with 45 factors on 17-of-31 taking pictures, 9 rebounds and 7 assists — with 23 of these factors coming after the Thunder trailed the Jazz 107-97 with eight:43 left in regulation.

Russell Westbrook completed with 43 factors, 15 rebounds and eight assists in 43 minutes within the Thunder’s double-overtime victory over the Jazz on Friday, ending his triple-double streak at 11 straight video games.

Paul George stated Thursday that he reached out to Nike to seek out out “what went flawed” along with his PG 2.5 signature shoe that Zion Williamson was sporting when he injured his knee on Wednesday.

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It was the third recreation winner of George’s profession, one thing he is conscious of, particularly contemplating the operating joke of him failing in these conditions earlier than this season. Dubiously, George was Zero-of-14 on go-ahead pictures within the remaining 10 seconds in his first eight seasons, with memes poking enjoyable of his Gatorade business that proclaimed “no OT tonight.”

This season, George has made as many recreation winners as anybody, hitting three of his six go-ahead pictures within the remaining 10 seconds.

“Generally it is higher to be fortunate than good. No, I am taking part in,” Jazz taking pictures guard Donovan Mitchell stated of George’s winner. “It was a superb shot, you understand, he is a hell of a participant. He is having a hell of a season. Clearly, he is recognized very properly, and hats off to him on his run, and I hope he continues doing it. Simply not in opposition to us.”

Paul George recorded his fourth 45-point recreation of the season in Friday’s win over the Jazz, tied for the third most in Thunder/SuperSonics historical past. Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports activities

Westbrook provided his take.

“I can simply keep in mind final yr they have been placing up Paul’s stats the place he was 1-for-12, 1-for-10, in clutch pictures, and all y’all have been most likely the identical folks doing the identical factor and now making pictures,” Westbrook stated. “To me, I like it. And I do know Paul loves it, as properly, giving him confidence to make pictures when we have to.”

Paul George’s late-game heroics in opposition to the Utah Jazz in prime time didn’t go unnoticed throughout the NBA.

Man in elite form. Guards and chases all recreation. Scores off motion and iso all recreation and windmill prefer it’s first quarter 🤣 https://t.co/m6RNM4elNm

— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) February 23, 2019

👀👀👀

— kuz (@kylekuzma) February 23, 2019

Robust @Yg_Trece !!!

— Bradley Beal (@RealDealBeal23) February 23, 2019

MVP! P13!

— Jordan Clarkson (@JordanClarksons) February 23, 2019

Sheesh . Float college

— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) February 23, 2019

Westbrook stated he would not essentially see something totally different in George in these conditions, however he may see one thing in himself. Westbrook is extra deferential than he ever has been, ceding the ground to George to play the a part of cold-blooded nearer, a job by which Westbrook has made a reputation for himself. That is true despite the fact that Westbrook missed Friday’s first game-winning try, on the buzzer of regulation, after which fouled out with a minute left within the first time beyond regulation. It left the sport for George to win, and as he plots bullet factors on an MVP résumé, the additional context round this recreation winner makes the listing.

“Massive gamers make huge performs,” Westbrook stated. “Clearly, he is been making all of them yr lengthy, and tonight was a type of nights the place he made one other huge play.”

After being eradicated within the playoffs in six video games by the Jazz final season, the Thunder are Three-Zero in opposition to Utah this season, with George averaging 39.6 factors on 60 p.c taking pictures in these contests. He had loads of causes for returning to the Thunder, however one he has personally famous is how final season ended. He scored simply 5 factors on 2-of-16 taking pictures because the Jazz completed OKC, and that style hasn’t left him. The sting is clear when he performs the Jazz, although he downplayed it after Friday’s tilt when requested if it meant slightly extra to hit a winner in opposition to Utah.

“No, I imply we simply want these wins,” George stated. “That recreation winner would not have occurred if the blokes did not make huge pictures. Jerami made a giant Three, Abdel [Nader] made a giant Three. These guys put me in place to win this recreation. The floater would not have occurred if these dudes did not make huge pictures once we wanted, as a result of I went chilly there for a minute however these dudes stepped up.”

Confidence in himself, confidence in his teammates. George is fearless within the second, taking part in unfastened and free, trusting his recreation and the gamers round him. There isn’t any overthinking, no processing the results of a miss. Throwing down windmills and whipping behind-the-back passes in time beyond regulation, lofting rainmaking floaters — George is feeling it.

As Westbrook summarized: “He is aware of what he is doing.”


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