Side story: George stumbles early but finds his game

By: Shannon Blake, special from

Opening night was an opportunity for Paul George to show what he could do without his co-star Russell Westbrook in the lineup and he came up short in the first half.

In the first half against the reigning champions, the Golden State Warriors, George was shooting 1-of-8 from the field at a woeful 12.8 percent. George managed to get up five three-point attempts only to miss all of them.

At the half, George was the worst player on the court with a plus-minus of minus 16. George had an opportunity to lead this new Thunder side and show what they were capable of against the Warriors on their ring ceremony night, but he was unable to produce any of his All-Star talents in the first half including keeping the ball safe as he turned it over three times at the half.

Coming out of halftime, George was on fire, finally finding his feet and his shot at the same time. He shot 6-of-10 in the third quarter at 60 percent. George, more importantly, found his range as he shot 3 of 6 from three-point range at 50 percent. As he got his game going so did his teammates with Dennis Schröder adding 21 points Steven Adams chipping in with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and it looked like the Thunder found their way, and it all started with George on the defensive end.

George restricted Kevin Durant to 9-of-21 shooting from the field and 0-of-5 from three-point range. George never let his head drop even through his shooting struggles. He relied on his defensive pedigree and believed his shot would fall again and it did.

The Thunder would ultimately fall on opening night 108-100, but they took some positives away with them as they go into their next game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday as Russell Westbrook hopes to return to the lineup. 

A. Suave FranciscoComment