Big win in Brook­lyn

The Thun­der came back from a 23-point deficit to beat the Nets, 114-112.

The Oklahoman - - FRONT PAGE - Erik Horne [email protected] ok­la­

BROOK­LYN — With Paul Ge­orge and Rus­sell West­brook at the cen­ter, a mob of Thun­der blue formed un­der­neath the bas­ket. In­side a cir­cle of team­mates, Ge­orge and West­brook bounced back and forth with the big­gest smiles on their faces.

It was a cel­e­bra­tion and ex­hale in an un­for­get­table 114-112 win against the Nets, the big­gest reg­u­larsea­son rally in Thun­der his­tory.

“It’s just spe­cial,” said Ge­orge, who scored a game-high 47 points, none more im­por­tant than his 3-pointer with 3.1 sec­onds left off West­brook’s heady pass.

“All year it’s been spe­cial with this group. We have fun and it showed in the cel­e­bra­tion tonight.”

The 3-pointer was the fi­nal of 25 fourth-quar­ter points for Ge­orge, and the first game-win­ning shot of his Thun­der ten­ure.

West­brook darted to­ward the side­line for an in­bounds pass with 8.1 sec­onds left. He could have drib­bled and shot, but he rec­og­nized the de­fense and flipped back to Ge­orge’s scorch­ing hot hand.

It saved an un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally lost de­fen­sive per­for­mance from the Thun­der, who showed shades of its early sea­son

de­feat to the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers – flat after a night in a big city.

“It was in­cred­i­ble,” said an awed Den­nis Schroder. “I think our ef­fort on the de­fen­sive end stop­ping the ball was just great.”

Schroder must have been re­fer­ring to only the fi­nal 7 ½ min­utes of the fourth quar­ter. For much of Wed­nes­day’s game at the Bar­clays Cen­ter, the Thun­der’s de­fense was a lat­ere­act­ing, scram­bled mess that gave up 15 3-point­ers.

To the Thun­der’s credit, even when it trailed by as many as 23 points, it didn’t quit.

“They kind of cor­rected and did some things a lot bet­ter in the sec­ond half than we did in the first half,” Thun­der coach Billy Dono­van said.

West­brook, who fin­ished with 21 points, 15 re­bounds

and 17 as­sists, was at the head of that rev­er­sal. In the fourth-quar­ter flurry, he hus­tled for of­fen­sive re­bounds. He skied for de­fen­sive re­bounds in the last min­utes, never get­ting a stat but his ef­fort enough to help Ge­orge get the re­bound that al­lowed Dono­van to call time­out to set up the fi­nal shot.

“Once you see a guy make a few in a row, get fouled, gain some con­fi­dence, my job is to find him,” West­brook said.”

Ex­e­cut­ing game-win­ning shots hasn’t been Ge­orge’s strong suit in his nine-year ca­reer.

Ac­cord­ing to ESPN Stats and In­for­ma­tion, be­fore Wed­nes­day, Ge­orge was 0-of-14 in his ca­reer on go-ahead field goals in the fi­nal 10 sec­onds of the fourth quar­ter or over­time.

Ge­orge’s fail­ures in those po­si­tions have drawn crit­i­cism and barbs across the In­ter­net. Those were nonex­is­tent on Wed­nes­day.

By the time Ge­orge ig­nited in the fourth quar­ter, the Bar­clays Cen­ter crowd was in hys­ter­ics. It didn’t even care about the fi­nal score.

As Ge­orge was ping­ing around like a pin­ball in the Thun­der post-game huddle, he didn’t care about any­thing else but the win. He fell one point short of a ca­reer high, but that didn’t mat­ter in ex­tend­ing the Thun­der’s win­ning streak to four.

“I don’t care about what the stats (are),” Ge­orge said when asked about his rep­u­ta­tion for miss­ing po­ten­tial game-win­ning shots. “Shots go in, shots don’t. I don’t play for stats. That’s not how I play the game.

“What­ever the joke or meme, I’m do­ing what I love to do and I’m do­ing it at the high­est level. I can’t say that for every­body that’s com­ment­ing or mak­ing a meme. Those guys aren’t happy with who they are. I’m happy with what I am, who I am as a per­son. I play this game be­cause I love it.”

Ok­la­homa City Thun­der for­ward Paul Ge­orge ges­tures to the crowd after scor­ing the game-win­ning bas­ket in the Thun­der’s 114-112 vic­tory over Brook­lyn.

Ok­la­homa City Thun­der guard Den­nis Schroder tries to keep the ball in bounds dur­ing Wed­nes­day night’s game at Brook­lyn.

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