Paul George Struggles in Return to Indiana Despite Thunder Win vs. Pacers

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 13: Paul George #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder watches on as they play against the Indiana Pacers on December 13, 2017 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Paul George may have been affected by a chorus of boos in his return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday night, but the Oklahoma City Thunder withstood a poor offensive performance from their star swingman to topple the Indiana Pacers 100-95 and move to 13-14.

After he was showered with jeers during pregame introductions, George sputtered his way to 12 points and four turnovers while shooting 3-of-14 from the field, including 2-of-7 from three, against the team that selected him 10th overall in the 2010 NBA draft.

However, George did get a chance to silence the crowd when he stole a late Pacers inbounds pass and hit a pair of game-sealing free throws that put the Thunder up five with 10.7 seconds remaining:

"Vic [Oladipo] is their guy here," George said of what he was thinking before coming up with the steal, according to the Norman Transcript's Fred Katz. "Right? Right? Simple. Don't let him get the ball. Ballgame."

It should be noted that George wasn't the only Thunder stud who underwhelmed as a scorer.

While point guard Russell Westbrook secured his league-leading ninth triple-double of the 2017-18 campaign with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists, he shot 3-of-17 from the floor. It marked just the second time this season the reigning MVP made fewer than five shots in a game.

Similar inefficiencies plagued Carmelo Anthony, who continued his season-long slump with 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

On the bright side, the Thunder were able to enjoy another fine outing from center Steven Adams.

A force below the free-throw line Wednesday night, Adams bullied the Pacers' less burly front line to the tune of 23 points and 13 rebounds, acting as OKC's offensive catalyst, as Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock pointed out:

Adams drew praise from a host of other observers as he stuffed the stat sheet:

Beyond Adams, the Thunder were able to play the role of front-runner thanks to a stellar defensive performance against the Pacers' sixth-ranked offense (108.1 points scored per 100 possessions).

As a team, the Pacers shot 44.9 percent from the field, as they were held to under 100 points for the ninth time this season.

That said, the principle pieces acquired in the George blockbuster acquitted themselves nicely.

Victor Oladipo, who has looked like a true All-Star, continued to spearhead the Pacers' scoring charge and finished with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals despite some stingy defense from George. 

"He did a good job on me defensively," Oladipo said, per Katz. "It was the first time I've had a defender like that guard me since I've been on this team."

Then there was Domantas Sabonis, who racked up a tidy eight points (4-of-6 shooting) and six boards in 18 minutes off the bench.

And while four of Indiana's starters finished in double figures, center Myles Turner (nine points) was silenced in a game that was dictated in large part by Adams' two-way brilliance.

The Thunder, who have now won five of their last seven overall, will try to claw back to .500 on Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Pacers will try to get back on the winning track at home Friday against the Detroit Pistons after Oklahoma City snapped their four-game winning streak and dropped them to 16-12.

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