OKC wins in George’s return to Indiana

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George struggled on homecoming night.

He still left town with the crown.

On a night the four-time All-Star was repeatedly booed and couldn’t seem to make a shot, he finally sunk two free throws with 10.7 seconds left Wednesday to seal Oklahoma City’s 100-95 victory at Indiana.

“Yeah, I’m happy this circus is over with. Everybody can move on,” George said. “I understood what the environment was going to be, so it wasn’t a surprise.”

Everything from finding the visiting locker room to dealing with the fans was different, and it seemed to take a toll.

George, who essentially forced a trade this summer by making it known he would leave the Pacers in free agency after this season, went 3-of-14 from the field and 2-of-7 on 3-pointers in scoring 12 points, with two rebounds and four turnovers.

Fortunately for Indiana, his friends helped him out.

Steven Adams finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds while reigning MVP Russell Westbrook recorded his ninth triple-double of the season — 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists.

When George came up with the final steal of the game, he pumped his arms and his teammates savored the moment as much as he did.

“I thought he had incredible poise tonight,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “Everybody was asking how is he and I hadn’t really noticed anything different. I thought his defense — certainly on the side out of bounds play — was really critical for us.”

The trade for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis was widely panned as below market value, but has turned out pretty well so far for the Pacers.

Oladipo led Indiana with 19 points and nearly brought them all the way back from an 11-point deficit with 5:16 left. The Pacers got to 96-94 with 1:07 to go and had a chance to tie it when they got the ball with 15.2 seconds left and down 98-95.

Instead, George came up with the steal and made the free throws to seal the win, silence the crowd, end the Pacers’ four-game winning streak and leave town as the king of the night.

“That team showed us that when you’re playing against these elite teams, it’s going to be a physical game and we didn’t match that tonight,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said.