Paul George may have been traded away, but it was well-known that he did not want to stay any longer with the Indiana Pacers. That led to his welcome-back being jeer-filled, but his new team got the last laugh, as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 100-95. George scored the game-clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left, but struggled on the night with just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting, including 2-of-7 from three-point range. Those numbers would go along with two rebounds and four turnovers. Steven Adams led the Thunder with 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook recorded his ninth triple-double of the year with 10 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists. Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis both came to the Pacers from OKC in the PG13 trade. Oladipo had 19 points on Wednesday to help Indiana come back from an 11-point deficit with 5:16 left in the game. The Pacers were down three, but George came up with the steal with 15 seconds left, and that led to his late free throws. Indiana did have 11 three-pointers on the night, but could not get one when the needed it, as they fell to 14-3 when making 10 or more shots from beyond the arc. They still sit in good position in the East with a 16-12 record, while the Thunder continue their back and forth season with a record of 13-14.
Rockets Stay Perfect with Paul on the Floor
The Houston Rockets are a completely different team with Chris Paul on the floor, and that is meant in the best type of way. They are possibly even more dangerous, and that's a team that was first in the Western Conference without CP3. There was more proof of this on Wednesday, as Paul scored 31 points in the Rockets' 108-96 win over the Charlotte Hornets, earning their 11th straight win. They improved to 12-0 with Paul in the starting lineup, and that's including a season-opening win over the Golden State Warriors in October. Harden added 21 points, as the Rockets hold the longest current win streak in the NBA and possibly the best off-season addition of the year. They have now won 17 of their past 18 games and sit with an NBA-best 22-4 record. Between the first and second quarters, Houston scored 25 straight points to take a 26-point lead in the first half. During that run, they made six three-pointers, three of which came from Paul. Dwight Howard impressed against his former team for Charlotte, as he put up a season-high tying 26 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to go along with three blocks. The Hornets have dropped nine of their past 10 road games since October 30th. The Toyota Center was not where the Hornets were going to figure things out, as Houston cruised to a 10-3 home record.
Villanova Cruises as Top-Ranked Team
The Villanova Wildcats took over the top spot in the college basketball AP Polls this past week with Duke going down, and they got their first try as the No. 1 team on Wednesday. So far, so good for Nova, who got 31 points from Jalen Brunson in an 87-67 rout of Temple on the road. Omari Spellman added 27 points for the Wildcats, who improved to 11-0 on the season. They shot 60 percent from the floor in what was just their second true road contest of the season. Brunson saw 22 of his points come in the first half, which led to Nova leading by 17 at the break. The junior point guard shot 11-of-16 from the field and grabbed six rebounds to add to his stat sheet. Donte DiVincenzo chipped in 12 points to help the Wildcats earn their 22nd straight Big 5 victory. The Owls dropped their third game of the season, despite getting 27 points from Quinton Rose. They also fell to 2-18 all time against No. 1 opponents, as this was the third straight time they faced Nova as the top-ranked team. Villanova has been in this position fairly often as of late, and look to use that experience to remain exactly where they are.