NBA DAILY DRIBBLE: Paul George and Russell Westbrook power the Thunder to second

NBA results: December 6, 2018

Golden State Warriors (129) – Cleveland Cavaliers (105)

Denver Nuggets (124) – Orlando Magic (118)

Washington Wizards (131) – Atlanta Hawks (117)

OKC Thunder (114) – Brooklyn Nets (112)

Philadelphia 76ers (102) – Toronto Raptors (113)

LA Clippers (86) – Memphis Grizzlies (96)

Detroit Pistons (92) – Milwaukee Bucks (115)

Charlotte Hornets (104) – Minnesota Timberwolves (121)

Dallas Mavericks (106) – New Orleans Pelicans (132)

San Antonio Spurs (113) – LA Lakers (121)

Five things that happened in the NBA today:

1. Russ and PG-13 do what they do best

The Thunder are a consistent Playoff contender. But that’s just it. They make the Playoffs but never any further. For some strange reason, the OKC has never found the right equation. They tried with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Scott Brooks. Then with Billy Donovan and Russell Westbrook. Then they added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to the mix.

Early this season, it looked like the new equation of just Russ, PG-13 and Donovan was still a bad mix. OKC started off the season with a 0-4 record. They were missing Westbrook who was out with an injury and George had to do the heavy lifting by himself.

Ever since Westbrook’s return to full health, the Thunder have looked unbeatable. They’ve only lost three more games since that 0-4 start. This season, the OKC’s equation looks like the most stable one they’ve had in years. They have a nasty defense and led by George, Steven Adams and a ton of athletic wings. Offensively, they still have Russ as the engine running the show.

This equation was on full display against the Nets. The Thunder were down by 16 points with seven minutes left in the game when they charged all the way back. Their defense forced misses and turnovers which led to additional possessions on the other end.

Offensively, George lit up the Nets. He exploded for 25 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Thunder back. He nailed three straight treys to spark the run and then started attacking the hoop non-stop. He gave the Thunder the win with a three-pointer near the top of the key in the dying seconds.

The other part of the equation, Westbrook, wasn’t so bad himself. He tallied a triple-double with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 17 assists. He partnered up with George in the clutch to lift the Thunder to the win.

OKC is now in second place with a 16-7 record. They’re only half a game behind the Nuggets for the top spot in the West. That’s further proof that this year’s equation is working so far.

2. LeBron James takes over in the clutch

Paul George wasn’t the only one who took over in the fourth period.

Out in LA, the Lakers were short-handed because of injuries and foul trouble. They fell behind by eight points in the fourth quarter to the Spurs. James took over showing his full offensive arsenal. He was hitting three-pointers from Cleveland, powering his way into the paint or zooming past defenders on switches. James scored 20 points in the final period, 42 points all in all to lead LA to another win.

The Lakers aren’t following the plan of easing the James’ load by spreading it among the young core. James has carried them to fourth quarter wins in their last two games. It doesn’t matter to the king though. He’s all about the Ws.

3. Kawhi Leonard is rules the East

The Raptors are the best team in the NBA. They’ve only lost five games and have handled almost all comers to the throne so far. Their latest win was a statement out in the East. Toronto knocked down the Sixers, a team that was rolling ever since the acquisition of the Jimmy Butler.

Leonard powered Toronto to the win with 36 points (on five treys), nine rebounds and five steals. He played like an MVP on both ends of the floor.

4. Grizzlies knock down Clippers

The Grizzlies and the Clippers both occupied the top seed in the West for a few moments early this season. Denver occupied the top spot but the Clippers were right behind them. Unfortunately for LA, they just couldn’t get past Memphis.

The Grizzlies used their defense to shut down the Clippers. The forward duo of Tobias Harris was shut down to 13% shooting while Danilo Gallinari was limited to just 33%. Mike Conley put up all-around numbers of 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks to lead Memphis.

5. Steph Curry is back

It took a while but it can now be said. Steph Curry is back!

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