Paul George is set to make his return when the Indiana Pacers host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday. George orchestrated a trade away from Indiana in the summer to join what he thought would be a winning situation, but it’s the Pacers who enter Wednesday’s clash with a better record.
George and the Thunder fell for the second time in three games to drop two games below .500 with a 116-103 loss at home to the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, and the team is still struggling to jell consistently. “For all the talent we have, obviously this is not where we want to be,” George told reporters. “But we’re going to remain optimistic about the future and what we can do. Once we find a way to really do it night in and night out, it’s no panic mode, but we have to start playing better.” George is averaging 20.6 points on 41.8 percent shooting for Oklahoma City while the main piece coming back to the Pacers in the trade that sent him away, shooting guard Victor Oladipo, is enjoying a breakout campaign and averaging 24.5 points on 48.5 percent shooting. Oladipo put up a career-high 47 points in a 126-116 overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday that gave Indiana its fourth straight win.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN, FS Oklahoma, FS Indiana
ABOUT THE THUNDER (12-14): Russell Westbrook is trying to will Oklahoma City to victories and put up 30 points and seven assists on Monday, but the team could not overcome a terrible third quarter. The Thunder were outscored 40-22 in the period after holding the Hornets to 18 points in the second, and the inconsistency is becoming commonplace. “Twenty-six games. It’s an 82-game season,” Westbrook told reporters. “It’s up to us, honestly. We just have to figure it out and play the same way every night.”
ABOUT THE PACERS (16-11): Oladipo was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season on Monday and is averaging 31.8 points on 53.8 percent shooting in five games this month. “Y’all might be surprised, but I put in the work,” Oladipo told reporters. “I work every day. I have no limit to how hard I work. I’m trying to be great. There’s no in between and I can’t settle for anything less.” That desire for greatness led Indiana to wins in 10 of its last 13 games and a spot among the top five in the East.
1. Another player that came over in the George trade, C Domantas Sabonis, is leading the Pacers in rebounding (8.5).
2. Thunder SG Andre Roberson (ankle) sat out Monday and is day-to-day.
3. Oladipo scored 35 points while George was held to 10 but Indiana fell 114-96 at Oklahoma City on Oct. 25.
PREDICTION: Pacers 116, Thunder 112