If he plays like a Most Valuable Player, talks like a Most Valuable Player, smells like a Most Valuable Player then he is a possibly a Most Valuable Player candidate.
Paul George poured in 43 points and had a career-high ten 3-pointers to help the Oklahoma City Thunder extended the NBA’s longest current winning streak to seven games by beating the Miami Heat 118-102.
In the end, George who in August 2014, announced he had changed his uniform number from 24 to 13, giving him the more marketable moniker of PG-13. He then donated all of his old jerseys to his high school in Palmdale, California. Walked out the AmericanAirlines Arena with Heat guard Dwyane Wade’s jersey.
“Paul George, tonight, was tremendous,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We basically tried every coverage we had in our playbook: regular man, trapping him, zone. … One of the more impressive shooting displays I’ve seen this season.”
The Thunder beat Miami for the sixth straight time and became the second team to have two separate winning streaks of at least seven games this season. Golden State is the other, with streaks of 11 and eight games.
On the opposite end of the court, the Heat fell to 11-15 at home, matching their home loss total from last season. Miami has dropped three straight at home, all by double figures.
Russell Westbrook collected his fifth straight triple-double and 18th of the season, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists. Steven Adams contributed 13 points for the Thunder.
PG-13 led the way in MVP like fashion. The Thunder baring injury will most likely be battling for a coveted top three spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. As fantastic as Westbrook has been this season, having George in the lineup gives the Thunder another dimension. Leading many to believe they can represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals only if George and Westbrook do their thing but need the rest of the offense to be up to the task.
“He’s in a groove, man,” Wade said. “He’s been playing phenomenal basketball. I’ve said it plenty of times: That’s my favorite player. I love watching PG play.”
PG-13, who set a franchise record for 3s in a game, had 16 points in the first quarter to get the Thunder in command on the road and 12 more in the fourth to seal the win.
George is sniffing at the 30-year age of his life. He once lost 11 consecutive games on the road in Miami, the Heat’s dynasty featuring the “Big Three” were a leading cause for that. But up to this point, this was his best game on the Heat’s home floor, connecting on 14 of 23 shots and 10 of 16 from 3-point land.
“D-Wade is a guy I look up to, and we’ve shared a bond through competition and now through a mentorship as a guy I look at and honestly want to model my brand and off-the-court stuff like,” George said. “It’s great for him. He’s had an amazing run. I couldn’t say enough really about D-Wade and what he’s been to this league and honestly for my development. He played a huge role in my development and who I am now as a player.”
Wade, a three-time NBA Champion, has been a regular season MVP candidate, never a winner as his career comes to an end after this season. The sky is the limit for George who is an MVP candidate; there would be no surprise if he would trade the award in for his first NBA Championship ring.
The beat goes on; the Thunder visits the Boston Celtics on Sunday. The Heat host George’s old team Indiana on Saturday.