Paul George explodes in 4th, rallies Thunder past Nets
NEW YORK — Once Paul George got going, he didn’t slow down until he carried the Oklahoma City Thunder to their biggest comeback victory ever.
George scored 25 of his 47 points in a sensational fourth quarter, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left that gave the Thunder a 114-112 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
George rallied the Thunder from a 23-point deficit and finished a point shy of his career high, leading them to a fourth straight victory in a game they trailed big for much of the way.
But they got close and then got the ball to George on their last possession, and there was no surprise he nailed the shot.
“Yeah, it felt good,” George said. “I had the hot hand, I knew I had the hot hand. I just felt good all game.”
Russell Westbrook had his 108th career triple-double to snap a tie with former Nets star and coach Jason Kidd for third in NBA history, finishing with 21 points, 17 assists and 15 rebounds.
But it was George, whose slow started helped send the Thunder into their big hole, who made sure they climbed out of it. And Westbrook made sure George knew not to lose his confidence even when his shot wasn’t falling.
“My job is to make sure that I constantly keep telling him to stay aggressive, to play his game because he’s that type of guy, man,” Westbrook said. “He can get hot. He’s a superstar in this league and as you seen tonight when he gets hot he can change the game for us.”
Allen Crabbe scored 22 points and tied a season high with seven 3-pointers, but Brooklyn dropped its eighth straight game. Joe Harris added 19 points but the Nets lost in another close finish after falling just short in recent losses to Philadelphia, Memphis and finally Cleveland on a basket by Alec Burks.
“What’s the definition of insanity? The same, over and over, and not changing, not adjusting,” Nets veteran Jared Dudley said.
“At the end I don’t know if it’s a switch or not a switch. Paul George hits a wide-open 3, Burks scores around a back dunk. It’s like these game-winners are the easiest game-winners in NBA history. So we got to figure out a way.”
Brooklyn led by 18 after three quarters, when George had 22 points. But he heated up quickly in the fourth and there was no slowing him down, as he made four 3-pointers in the period and drove hard to the basket when the Nets did get to him at the arc.
Still, it looked as if the Nets could withstand his flurry when he missed twice on a late possession. But the Thunder got another chance and George made it count, as he calmly took his time after Westbrook found him and delivered what ended up an easy look.
Oklahoma City improved to 16-3 since its 0-4 start.
Brooklyn led by only two after one quarter but then outscored Oklahoma City 36-22 in the second. Nets reserves outscored the Thunder by themselves, totaling 23 points. The Nets ran off the first 10 points to take a 36-24 lead, then used a 9-2 surge to open a 54-35 cushion on Crabbe’s 3-pointer with 3:41 remaining in the half.
The Thunder came into the game having outscored opponents by an NBA-high 97 points in the third quarter, but the Nets outscored them 31-29 in the period, getting three 3-pointers from Crabbe and going ahead by as much as 23 before taking a 93-75 advantage to the fourth.
Thunder: George was just 1 for 6 in the first quarter. He finished with 15 rebounds. … Steven Adams finished with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
Nets: Crabbe also made seven 3-pointers on Nov. 21 at Dallas. … Robinson Cano, back in New York after being traded from Seattle to the Mets on Monday, was at the game.
Westbrook, who owns the single-season record for triple-doubles and averaged one for a season when he was the MVP, said he was a fan of Kidd’s. Kidd had the majority of his triple-doubles (61), while playing for the Nets from 2001-08.
“To be able to pass him is something I never even dreamed about, so just honored,” Westbrook said.
Thunder: At Chicago on Friday night.
Nets: Host Toronto on Friday night.
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