Thunder's George faces former team for first time
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Paul George, who searched for a way out of Indiana, will get a look at his former team Wednesday when the Pacers come to Oklahoma City for an early-season reunion.
George and the Thunder are still looking for the perfect balance in their remade roster. They are off to a 1-2 start.
"We're too talented for that, to put ourselves in that position," George said after the Thunder's last-second loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, when Andrew Wiggins hit a 3-pointer as time expired. "But the way we finished this game is, I think, what this Thunder team is about."
Fellow Thunder newcomer Carmelo Anthony hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left to give Oklahoma City the lead before Wiggins responded.
George's tenure in Indiana didn't end well. He asked to get out of Indiana before being sent to Oklahoma City in a trade that netted the Pacers guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domantas Sabonis -- both of whom will return for the first time to Oklahoma City for a Pacers team that beat the Timberwolves 130-107 on Tuesday night.
The Thunder's acquisition of George was the first of a pair of offseason moves that combined George, Anthony and MVP Russell Westbrook on the same roster -- a Big 3 to battle in the strong Western Conference.
George is averaging 21.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists through three games.
"It'll be emotional from the standpoint of the organization that I started with and had a wonderful journey with and had seven unbelievable years with," George said Tuesday. "It'll be emotional from that standpoint. ... It'll be fun to see a lot of familiar faces, especially in the front office. I'm looking forward to it."
Despite losing its top two scorers from last season, Indiana (2-2) is averaging just under 119 points per game, helped by a 140-point effort in the season opener against Brooklyn. Oladipo is averaging a team-high 23.8 points per game. Sabonis is scoring 13 points per game off the bench, and he led the Pacers in rebounds in three of the first four games.
Indiana shot 66.7 percent from the field against Minnesota to set a single-game franchise record.
"Guys actually want the other guy to do well," said point guard Darren Collison, who finished with 15 points and 16 assists Tuesday. "The chemistry has been amazing, but the biggest thing is we still have got to have that feistiness."
Indiana coach Nate McMillan said, "It was just great ball movement. I thought our guards did a good job of establishing tempo. ... Thirty-one assists, you're moving the ball like that and guys are going to knock down shots."
The Pacers will close out a three-game road trip against the Thunder before returning home for back-to-back games.
Oladipo, who was acquired by the Thunder in a trade for Serge Ibaka, signed a four-year, $84 million contract extension less than a year before he was sent to the Pacers. Sabonis' draft rights were acquired by the Thunder in the same draft-night trade in 2016.
"You just got to do the good things that you did here tomorrow," Oladipo said after the win Tuesday. "It's not exactly going to be the same because it's a different team. They might do something a little different. You just have to be ready to go out there and play."
Updated October 25, 2017