Paul George had last season’s playoff failure on mind when he destroyed Jazz Saturday
Paul George never forgets. The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar forward entered Vivint Smart Home Arena with one thing on his mind: revenge. According to Brett Dawson of The Athletic, the ghosts of last season’s playoff failure was all he thought about throughout the Thunder’s road showdown against the Utah Jazz.
“I owed myself, I owed it to this team,” George said. “I didn’t like the way I finished in this arena the last time I was here. And that was on my mind coming into tonight.”
Oklahoma City barely escaped Salt Lake City with the win, 107-106. But George wasn’t about to let his team down again and willed himself to ease the pain of last year’s heartbreaking defeat in the same building. George had a horrendous outing in the close-out loss, going just 2-of-16 from the field, finishing with five points to end his first season with OKC.
With that game on his mind as motivation, George torched the Jazz with 43 points on 15-of-25 shooting, and made five threes, while adding 14 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals to cap off yet another monster night.
Memories of Game 6 might have flashed through George’s head as Utah raced to a 13-point lead during the second quarter. But an OKC surge to end the first half put them within three, which set up a masterful third quarter by George to keep them in the game.
George was simply phenomenal in the third canto, outscoring Utah by himself, 22-20, on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, and 4-of-6 from deep. Oklahoma City needed every single one of George’s 43 points as almost everyone on the Thunder struggled on the night. Russell Westbrook had another abysmal shooting night, missing 14 of his 17 shots, and scoring just eight points on the night. He did, however, add 12 rebounds and nine assists.