Paul George in L.A. went from being a Laker goal in the offseason to a sore reminder of what isn't reality on Wednesday night. The former free agent and current Kia MVP candidate didn't even take a meeting with Magic Johnson & Co. during the summer, instead opting to remain with Oklahoma City before any temptation to do otherwise could be sprung upon him.
The lack of an All-Star sidekick for LeBron James hasn't stopped the Lakers from remaining in the playoff picture, but that didn't stop their fans from raining boos on George early and often.
They booed Paul George. pic.twitter.com/iR3mYje8AT— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) January 3, 2019
When that didn't work, the Laker faithful united under the defiant cry of "We don't need you."
The vocal displeasure fell on deaf ears. George finished with a game-high 37 points on 15-for-29 shooting in OKC's 107-100 win. And though he likely enjoyed his performance in the unusual "homecoming" (George was raised in Palmdale, Calif.), Russell Westbrook appeared to appreciate it even more. The former MVP broke out an incredibly enthusiastic air guitar when George slipped past Lance Stephenson for an and-one thanks to a particularly nasty dribble sequence.
And that wasn't enough. Westbrook felt compelled to add a wink and kiss, which we can only assume were directed toward Stephenson.
Westbrook's glee on George's behalf is symbolic of the shift between the two. It is George who leads the team in scoring and shot attempts, George who is representing the Thunder in the MVP discussions.
So far, Westbrook seems fine with the transition. It's not as though he has given up his competitive edge, which led him to angrily knock a water bottle off the scorer's table as the Lakers were making a second-half run.
Rudy Gobert, who set the bar last month of scorer's table anger management, wasn't impressed.
That was weak... https://t.co/BOSg60EUjB— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) January 3, 2019
There are franchise players, then there's the guy who prints reverse posters on them. Here's a list of Jarrett Allen's high-profile victims this season:
And, on Wednesday, Allen added Davis to the list:
Hayward haunts Wolves again
Gordon Hayward's "I'm back" game occurred on Dec. 1 at Minnesota, when he put up 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in just under 30 minutes. The former All-Star has been relatively quiet since, scoring in double figures just four times in that span.
Fast-forward to Wednesday against, you guessed it, the same Timberwolves team. Something about the team that valued Wesley Johnson as a better shooting guard than Hayward in the 2010 Draft must really appeal to the Celtics swingman. Hayward couldn't be stopped, hitting 14 of his final 16 shots en route to a 35-point night in Boston's 115-102 victory.
Davis' big night
"The Brow" has done some big things in New Orleans, but never has he dominated the boards like he did against Brooklyn. The Pelicans superstar swallowed a career and franchise-best 26 rebounds to go along with 34 points and three blocks in the 126-121 loss to the Nets.
The performance saw Davis leapfrog multiple efforts by former teammate DeMarcus Cousins and former New Orleans Hornet Tyson Chandler, who between them accounted for the top 10 single-game rebounding performances in franchise history.
We're not sure who was more ready at tipoff:
The Dallas Mavericks, who sank a franchise-record 10 3-pointers in the opening quarter?
Or Joel Embiid, who logged a 30-point, 14-rebound double-double by halftime in Phoenix?
Back in my day
Kudos to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News for getting some perspective on 41-year-old Dirk Nowitzki passing the torch to 19-year-old Luka Doncic. Yes, the latter is having a steller rookie season. Just don't think that present-day Doncic could hold a candle to in-his-prime Dirk. When asked who would win in 1-on-1, Nowitzki made it clear that timing is everything.
“He’s got a lot of moves in the one-on-one games," Nowitzki said. "He’s got a lot of shots in his repertoire. I’d probably go with him now. But back in the days? No chance, no chance.”
Dirk Nowitzki on what a one-on-one match against Luka Doncic would go like? “He’s got a lot of moves in the one-on-one games. He’s got a lot of shots in his repertoire. I’d probably go with him now. But back in the days? No chance, no chance.”— Eddie Sefko (@ESefko) January 2, 2019