(AP) — The Indiana Pacers were waiting for the kind of game Paul George delivered in their most recent victory.
Gregg Popovich was doing likewise for Tony Parker.
George tries to follow up his best game as a pro Friday night when the Pacers look to end a 10-game losing streak to Parker and the Spurs.
Without injured All-Star Danny Granger, the Pacers (6-7) have asked George to shoulder the scoring load. The third-year swingman has averaged 15.2 points and reached double figures in all but one game thus far, but finally had a breakout performance Wednesday versus New Orleans – hitting a franchise-record nine 3-pointers and scoring 33 of his career-high 37 points in the second half and overtime of the 115-107 victory.
“We were waiting on a breakout game from him,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “With a player you’re trying to develop, the biggest battle is confidence, and when you have a game like this, it shows what you can do.”
That confidence, though, has been missing following George’s good games. He scored 20 points on two separate occasions earlier this season but shot a combined 5 for 21 in the contests following those outings.
George, though, feels Wednesday’s game could mark a turning point in his game-to-game consistency.
“When I had moments to score, I was speeding myself up; just the anxiety I had to knock that shot down,” he told the team’s official website. “Nights like this, when I can be comfortable and let the shot come to me is more my style of playing. … I just have to calm down and play in a comfortable zone.”
George had 14 points as Indiana shot 34.2 percent at San Antonio on Nov. 5 as the Spurs rolled to a 101-79 win despite Tony Parker missing 10 of 13 shots and scoring six points.
That was the beginning of a seven-game stretch in which Parker averaged 11.1 points on 37.9 percent shooting, but he turned his struggles around Wednesday. The point guard made 12 of 17 shots and scored a season-high 26 points while adding six assists as the Spurs (9-3) opened their six-game road swing with a 112-100 victory at Boston.
“This was his best game in a while,” Popovich said. “He hasn’t really scored, he hasn’t been aggressive for whatever reason. He’s known it and he’s tried to work through it and put a finger on it, but tonight he played a complete game.”
Despite his struggles against the Pacers earlier this month, Parker has averaged 23.0 points in his last three games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
While George and Parker will be focal points on the perimeter, Tim Duncan and Roy Hibbert will again be in the spotlight in the low post. Duncan, who had 20 points and 15 rebounds Wednesday for his seventh double-double, has averaged 17.6 and 13.9, respectively, during the Spurs’ win streak over the Pacers.
Hibbert, however, is coming off his first career triple-double after totaling 10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 blocks versus the Hornets. The 7-foot-2 center was held to two points and five rebounds in the loss earlier this month, going 1 for 7 from the floor.