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Driven by past playoff woes, Thunder's Big 3 hungry for next step

OKLAHOMA CITY  Swiping an offensive rebound in the corner of the Chesapeake Energy Arena court during the closing seconds of the third quarter, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George went isolation and rose up to swish a saucy step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving OKC a 10-point lead during Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the visiting Utah Jazz.

Now better known with the self-prophesied nickname "Playoff P", George had arguably the best playoff performance of his career on Sunday evening, finishing with 36 points on 8-of-11 shooting from downtown, propelling the Thunder to a 116-108 win over the Jazz.

"When you have a performance like that," Thunder teammate Carmelo Anthony said of George, "He can stick with Playoff P."

At a Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas during the 2014 offseason, George  then playing for the Indiana Pacers  broke his right leg in a freak injury when crashing into the bottom of the backboard stanchion. With such a serious and gruesome injury, many wondered if George would ever fully recover and return to superstar form.

In the nearly four years since the injury, the Fresno State grad has returned to his elite form on both ends of the court, and Sunday's performance cast all doubts aside.

But George, and his two superstar teammates  Anthony and reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook  all have two things in common: sparse playoff success and no rings.

The Lawton Constitution

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