Thunder video: Paul George hands his game-worn shoes to OKC fan
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Video: Paul George hands his game-worn shoes to Thunder fan after win over Rockets

Paul George

Like it or not, popularity matters in voting for individual player awards – and Paul George seems to know it. After dropping 45 points in his team’s thrilling 117-112 victory over the Houston Rockets, on his way back to the locker room the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar gave his game-worn shoes to a lucky fan at Toyota Center.

Lucky. Those kicks could be extra valuable, too, if George continues playing the way he did on Saturday night.

In a nationally-televised game between two marquee teams that featured the past two MVP winners, it was George who emerged as the clear best player on the court. Not only did he set a new season-high in points, but George also spent much of his night guarding James Harden. The reigning MVP scored 42 points against the Thunder but had a season-low one assist for the second game in a row, beset by the length and activity of George and his Oklahoma City teammates.

Russell Westbrook made history on Saturday, too, notching his ninth consecutive triple-double with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists, tying a record Wilt Chamberlain set in 1967-68. He also came up huge on both ends of the floor as the game hung in the balance late. After Harden put the Rockets up 112-111 with a running floater as the game clock read 32 seconds, Westbrook gave the Thunder the lead for good with a driving finish of his own, then on the other end forced his former teammate into a difficult 27-footer that caromed off the rim.

It was George, though, who looked like the real MVP.