FORCED INTO an expanded role thanks to a pair of suspensions, Paul George turned in yet another big-time performance for the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, scoring 43 in a 132-113 road win over the Sacramento Kings.
While George started in his typical spot, he was forced to also serve as the Thunder’s backup point guard after the NBA handed down one-game suspensions to both Dennis Schroder and Raymond Felton earlier in the day.
Schroder and Felton were each suspended for coming off the bench during an altercation on Monday’s win over Chicago.
That forced George onto the floor during some stretches when he would have normally been on the bench along with starting point guard Russell Westbrook.
George scored 15 of his points in the second quarter, as Oklahoma City outscored the Kings 35-19 in the quarter to build a lead that grew as large as 22 in the frame.
While the Thunder were shorthanded and able to find ways to be successful, the Kings were even more shorthanded and it showed.
Already without rookie forward Marvin Bagley, Sacramento also did not have Bogdan Bogdanovic or Iman Shumpert available. Bogdanovic is managing a sore foot while Shumpert is still feeling the effects of a hip injury suffered last Friday.
Westbrook had his eighth triple-double of the season, with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 17 assists. Nine of Westbrook’s assists came in the fourth quarter after the Kings pulled within single-digits of the Thunder.
Steven Adams had 20 points and a career-high 23 rebounds. Adams’ previous career high was 20 in January 2015 during his second season in the league.
Jerami Grant added 22 points, going 9 of 11 from the floor.
About the only thing that did not go well for the Thunder was the free-throw shooting of Westbrook and Grant. The two combined to shoot just 4-of-13 from the line. Westbrook is shooting more than 10% worse from the free-throw line as he has in any other season as a pro.
Buddy Hield scored a career-high 37 points for Sacramento, hitting seven three-pointers. De’Aaron Fox added 28 points and 12 assists in the loss.
Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to help the Milwaukee Bucks post a 123-115 victory over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans also on Wednesday.
Malcolm Brogdon added 16 points and seven rebounds, and Khris Middleton had 14 points for Milwaukee, which won for the fifth time in the past six games.
Anthony Davis led New Orleans with 27 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes. — Reuters