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Thunder’s Paul George recognizes ‘bad blood’ whenever up against co-division team

Paul George, Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder emerged victorious in Thursday night’s northwest division matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers. Paul George and company brought it up a notch in the overtime period, as they were able to defeat the home team, 129-121, after an extra period of play.

Following the huge win, George explained why these types of inter-division games mean so much more for the teams involved.

“It’s a division matchup,” George said, per ESPN’s Kevin Pelton. “There’s a little bit of bad blood between all these games. I’m new to this. This is my second year being involved with this [Northwest] divisional stuff, but you get that kind of play when you’re playing divisional opponents — especially how tight us, Houston and Portland, how tight this is going down. We want it. They want it. It’s going to be emotional sometime.”

George hit the nail on the head here. The race for a top three finish in a ruthless Western Conference has gotten extremely tight of late, with the Thunder, Blazers, and the Houston Rockets all separated by just a single win. Surely, this has added even more spice to an already heated rivalry between these co-division teams.

The Oklahoma victory on Thursday put them ahead of the Blazers by one game, with the former continuing to stand pat at the third spot. The Rockets have been surging of late, and have won six straight, which has allowed them to leapfrog the Blazers for the fourth seed.

There are now less than 20 games remaining in the regular season, and surely, the northwest race is going to go down the wire.