The day before the Thunder hosted Indiana, a certain topic of conversation was considered taboo inside the confines of Oklahoma City's practice facility.
It was rising star Paul George.
“KD don't want me answering this question,” Thunder center Kendrick Perkins responded, in reference to Kevin Durant, when asked about the Pacers forward, “because he's getting tired of hearing about Paul George.”
George has become the league's newest darling, the best player on the NBA's best team and a player more and more observers are openly ranking a top three player — some even listing him ahead of Durant due to George's superior defensive ability.
So on Sunday night, in a highly anticipated battle of two of the league's best teams, a game within a game unfolded, as Durant went out of his way to remind everyone, especially George, exactly who he is.
The end result was the Thunder dismantling the top defensive team in basketball, with Durant leading the way behind a game-high 36 points in Oklahoma City's 118-94 victory inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“He came out with a vengeance,” Thunder guard Reggie Jackson said of Durant. “I think he's tired of hearing about it, too. Whatever got him going, though, I'm happy we got the win.”
The Thunder shot an opponent season-high 61 percent on the Pacers, who came to town hounding opponents into a league-best 39.8 percent shooting from the field. OKC's point total also was an opponent season high and marked just the fifth time the Pacers (18-3) allowed at least 100 points.
Durant later avoided adding any additional insight into his feelings about George.
“Anybody who's guarding me,” Durant said, “I take it personal.”