December 20, 2018 / 5:48 AM / a month ago

George explodes for 43 as Thunder top Kings

EditorsNote: rewords seventh graf

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 points in a 132-113 road win over the Sacramento Kings.

While George started in his typical spot, he also was forced to 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 during Oklahoma City’s Monday win over the Chicago Bulls.

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 period to build a lead that grew as large as 22 in the frame.

While the Thunder were short-handed and able to find ways to be successful, the Kings were even more short-handed, and it showed.

Already without rookie forward Marvin Bagley III (knee), 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 sustained last Friday.

Westbrook had his eighth triple-double of the season, finishing 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.

Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams had 20 points and a career-high 23 rebounds. Adams’ previous career-best rebounding total was 20, set in January 2015 during his second season in the league.

Jerami Grant added 22 points for the Thunder, going 9 of 11 from the floor.

About the only thing that did not go well for Oklahoma City 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 percent 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 3-pointers. De’Aaron Fox added 28 points and 12 assists in the loss.

—Field Level Media

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