Paul George posted a 47-point triple-double on the same night that Russell Westbrook broke the record for most consecutive triple doubles himself, performances that led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 120-111 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 31. Westbrook’s 10th triple-double in a row was enough to break the record held by Oscar Robertson; 47 points from George ties his season high.
Portland found themselves down early and there was one man to blame. Paul George. George has been playing at an MVP level all season long, and today was his showcase. George went 8-11, 4-4 from three, scoring 25 points in the first half. He had also tallied 5 assists and 5 rebounds. Portland tried a slew of different defenders but it didn't make a difference. None of the Blazers’ wings could slow down George and he knew it. He shot over defenders, bullied them in the lane, and when help came, he found open guys. His teammates were knocking down shots too. George finished the game with 47 points on 15-25 shooting and added 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
Portland got down by as many as 20, but made a run in the third to cut the lead to 10. Then George scored 6 straight to start the fourth quarter and squashed those hopes. He was just too good tonight.
The Big (?) 3
Jusuf Nurkic, Damian Lillard, and CJ McCollum have been the offensive focal points for the Blazers this season, but they struggled today. When they struggle, the Blazers don’t win. The trio combined to shoot 6-29 in the first half for just 23 points. Dame was on the wrong end of a few calls and was clearly frustrated. Nurkic struggled to get touches, and CJ couldn't get anything to fall all game long. Dame got it going with 13 in the third quarter and finished with 31 for the game, but Nurkic fouled out after attempting just 7 shots, and McCollum hit only one shot in the entire second half. That’s not going to get it done.
You didn't have to look at the schedule to know the Blazers were on a second night of a back-to-back. It became clear enough just watching the game. Portland had decent energy to start the game, but still looked like they were off. The refs seemed to get to them. Paul George was too much.
In a game where offense was scarce, I am surprised we didn’t see more minutes from Jake Layman, Rodney Hood, and Seth Curry, or more touches for Nurkic.
Defensively, there wasn't much Portland could do with George. Al-Farouq Aminu had the most success against him, but with Aminu on George, matchup problems cropped up other places. And it’s not like Aminu slowed George down anyway.
This was a tough loss from a standings perspective. Bright side: even though George was playing well and Portland wasn’t, the game never felt out of hand.
Jake Layman - All Layman does anymore is play well and score effectively. Layman played better than anyone else tonight and at this point, that’s no surprise. Jake has been finishing off the dribble, hitting shots, moving and creating solutions. He was as good on defense as anyone else for the Blazers and finished with 4 blocks on the night. If you are not on the Jake Layman train, might be time to hop on.
Rodney Hood - Hood was especially ineffective against Paul George defensively, but no one was anything close to effective. Offensively, Hood was feeling good. He hit shots and more importantly, was able to create shots for himself— something the Blazers have yearned for from a player other than the “Big 3” (and Jake). He didn't offer much else, but it’s still puzzling that he didn't get more minutes in a game where Portland’s offense struggled.
Raymond Felton - Boo
Russell Westbrook - Broke a triple-double record
Life doesn’t get any easier this week. The Blazers face the defending champion Golden State Warriors at the Moda Center on Wednesday February 13th.