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Baseball isn’t the only sport with unwritten rules about what is considered acceptable or unacceptable.
With Oklahoma City up 12 points on Portland with six seconds left in Friday night’s Game 3, Thunder forward Paul George — instead of dribbling out the clock as is convention — took a pass from Raymond Felton and threw down a double-clutch reverse dunk just after the final horn sounded.
The move didn’t sit well with the Blazers, who lost 120-108, but still have a 2-1 lead in the first-round Western Conference playoff series that has turned into a heated affair featuring a must-see matchup between Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard.
Several Blazers players took exception to the dunk – just as some took exception to Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson’s recent bat flip after a home run.
Players from both teams exchanged words after the game before heading to their locker rooms.
“The game had been decided,” Lillard said, “and if that’s something they needed to do to make themselves feel more dominant or feel better, then so be it.”
Thunder coach Billy Donovan reasoned that the Blazers took a shot instead of running out the clock, so it was fair game for George to do the same.
“Both teams played the game all the way out,” Donovan said.
Asked about the dunk, George replied, “Next question,” a tiresome answer that Westbrook also uses.
Should George have tried the dunk? One camp says no big deal, he’s entitled to the dunk given the victory. The other camp says no, it’s disrespectful.
The Thunder have brought out the taunts in the series, from Westbrook faux rocking a baby to sleep after making a shot against Lillard to Dennis Schroder doing the watch tap that Lillard usually does to let people know it’s “Dame Time.”
Westbrook and Lillard have gone at it on the court with their play and their talk. Even though Westbrook had his best game of the series in Game 3 with 33 points, 11 assists and five rebounds, Lillard has outplayed him overall, averaging 30.3 points, 5.3 assists and four rebounds while shooting 42.9% on 3-pointers.
Game 4 is Sunday in Oklahoma City (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT).
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt