George shows off skill, juggles emotions in Indiana return

AFP
A four-time All-Star, George was booed loudly whenever he touched the ball in his first return to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena since being traded five months ago.
AFP
Reuters

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (left) dribbles the ball as Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison defends during the first quarter of their NBA game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, on December 14, 2017. The Thunder won 100-95.

Russell Westbrook recorded his ninth triple double of the season and Paul George made a successful return to Indiana as the Oklahoma City Thunder edged the Pacers 100-95 on Wednesday.

A four-time All-Star, George was booed loudly whenever he touched the ball in his first return to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena since being traded five months ago.

But George's return went off without a hitch as he scored 12 points and backed up Westbrook's 10-point, 17-rebound and 12-assist performance in front of the hostile crowd of 17,900.

George was traded to Oklahoma City in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis after he told the Pacers he didn't plan to re-sign with the club at the end of this NBA season.

"He had incredible poise," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of George. "He didn't shoot well, but I thought his defense was critical."

George knew the environment would be a physical and mental test.

"I'm glad the circus is over with and now everybody can move on," George said. "I'm not sure what they (fans) wanted me to be, a circus act or some kind of show.

"I played my hardest. I thought I took what the city is about and that's being blue collar."

Steven Adams scored 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Thunder.

The Thunder improved to 13-14 on the season as they registered their first two-game season sweep of Indiana since 2012-13 and snapped the Pacers' four-game winning streak.

Oladipo led the Pacers with 19 points, but had a rough shooting night, going 9 of 26 from the floor.

Bojan Bogdanovic added 15 for Indiana and Thaddeus Young had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 7 steals.

In Boston, Kyrie Irving returned from a one-game injury absence and scored 33 points as the Celtics shot a season-high 59.5 percent from the floor en route to a 124-118 win over Denver. 

"That was the only way we were going to win tonight, the way we were guarding and rebounding," said coach Brad Stevens of the strong shooting performance.

Jaylen Brown added 26 points and Aron Baynes had 17 as the Celtics overcame a career-high 36 points by Nuggets guard Gary Harris and 28 by Jamal Murray.

Denver, finishing a six-game road trip, was missing three key players with injuries, Paul Millsap (wrist), Nikola Jokic (ankle) and Will Barton (back).

Elsewhere on Wednesday, it was: Pelicans 115, Bucks 108; Rockets 108, Hornets 96; Wizards 93, Grizzlies 87; Trail Blazers 102, Heat 95; Bulls 103, Jazz 100; Raptors 115, Suns 109; and Clippers 106, Magic 95.

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