LOS ANGELES, California – An eruption of boo’s and “We don’t need you” chants filled the Staples Center on Wednesday night directed at Paul George as the Oklahoma City Thunder took a West Coast trip to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 107-100.
For a night that involved two Thunder technical fouls, 38 percent shooting from the field, and 50 total personal fouls, players like Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and Steven Adams stepped up for OKC to help the Thunder outscore the Lakers 29-18 in the last quarter of play and secure win No. 24 of the season.
Paul George greatly contributed to this Thunder win, despite a hostile welcome from Lakers fans, ending the night with 37 points going 15-29 from the field and picking up 4 steals. He’s been a top scorer for the Thunder lately, especially in the month of December, averaging 30.8 points in this month alone. His name has been tossed around in the MVP talk, and he let Lakers fans have it tonight with a performance that pushed the Thunder to victory.
George faced a tough decision last season during free agency of whether he would stay in Oklahoma City for a second season, or if he would return to his home state and wear the purple and gold. He even made a three-part docuseries highlighting his process to deciding before he announced his wish to remain in Oklahoma City.
With an arena full of fans against him in his home state, PG picked up 13 points in the second quarter, 11 in the third, and ended with 37 to showcase exactly what he promised to help the Thunder to do by remaining in Oklahoma City – Win.
Russell Westbrook struggled mightily from the floor shooting 3-20 from inside the paint and 1-7 from downtown, but he was active in other aspects of the game picking up triple-double No. 111 of the season at 14-16-10.
“I pride myself on being the most consistent player in the league,” Westbrook said following the loss in Dallas on Dec. 30. “Missing and making shots is part of the game. I bring so much more to the game of basketball than offense. I defend at a high level, rebound, pass… I do whatever for us [Thunder] to win games.”
The Lakers were shorthanded tonight without LeBron James who continues to sit out after suffering a groin injury during the Christmas Day game against the Warriors. The Lakers are now 1-3 without him on the court. Top scorer Kyle Kuzma also did not return to the floor after halftime, and Rajon Rondo remained out of the lineup as well.
Steven Adams had a tricky matchup against Lakers big Javale McGee tonight, but kept good composure and strength finishing with 14 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Adams averaged 17 points in December, and he’s quickly showing Thunder fans his All-Star abilities.
Abdel Nader has been a prime example of a player who has stepped up when needed and is making some noise for the Thunder offense over the past few games. Tonight Nader finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes of playing, and with Alex Abrines extensively out for personal reasons, Nader has been a good guy to step up in the shooting position considering the Thunder offense is an area needing work.
The Thunder capped off the month of December at 10-6 and now advance to 24-13 in the season with this win over the Lakers. LA will drop to 21-17, 13-7 on their home court, and will look to get back to their winnings ways on Friday when they host the Knicks.
The Thunder will travel up to Portland to face the Trail Blazers for the first time this season before returning home on Sunday evening to host the Washington Wizards.