Paul George helps Pacers figure out how to finally beat the Spurs
This was no ordinary victory for Paul George and the Indiana Pacers. They know how difficult it is to beat the San Antonio Spurs.
George scored 28 points and Indiana defeated San Antonio 111-100 on Saturday night, snapping an 11-game skid against the Spurs.
"It means a lot," George said. "We haven’t won here since 2002. So it definitely means that we’re onto something. Something great is going on in here, if we just continue to keep on this path, we have a positive future."
David West had 20 points and Lance Stephenson scored 15 for the Pacers, who enjoyed a 41-34 rebounding edge. Roy Hibbert and Luis Scola each had 12 points and 10 boards.
"I couldn’t be happier with how they played, particularly in the second and third quarter," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Second quarter, getting back in the game, but in the third quarter, really busting it open. Tough to pick a star in the game with as many contributions as we got. Just great balance and a great team win."
Kawhi Leonard scored 18 points for San Antonio, which has dropped three of five. Manu Ginobili added 16 points, Tony Parker had 13 and Tim Duncan finished with 10.
Indiana had lost 12 straight in San Antonio and appeared headed for a baker’s dozen early on.
Ginobili’s 3-pointer with 9:46 remaining in the first half gave the Spurs a 35-22 lead. It was their largest lead, but also the start of the team’s fall as the Pacers’ starting five overwhelmed their counterparts.
"We give a lot of credit to Indiana," Parker said. "They just played better than us."
Indiana closed the first half on a 30-18 run and opened the second half with a 12-2 spree.
"We had a good first quarter," Duncan said. "Second quarter they started making some shots and we weren’t able to keep up. We went cold, they heated up and got a little lead there. We just couldn’t recover."
George’s 3 gave the Pacers an 85-62 lead with 46.3 seconds left in the third. He was 4 for 4 from long range and also had six assists.
George had nine points in the third quarter, and the team’s starters had all but two of Indiana’s points in a 35-17 period.
"We knew it was a long game," George said. "This is one team that never thinks we’re out of a game, no matter what the circumstances are. But we knew that we had to get stops and we had to match their energy."
San Antonio held a 23-8 edge in second-chance points and a 34-26 advantage in points in the paint, but Indiana attempted 22 more free throws. The Pacers went 26 for 28 at the line, compared to 5 for 6 for the Spurs.
"If you lose, you were less aggressive, and you didn’t have the effort; that’s all baloney," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "That’s psycho-babble. You don’t think Patty Mills and those guys played hard? You don’t think Timmy tried to play hard? That’s silly. They played better than we did. It’s got nothing to do with effort."
NOTES: The Pacers’ last victory against the Spurs was 100-99 on April 1, 2007, in Indianapolis. Their last victory in San Antonio was 92-82 on Jan. 4, 2002. … Spurs C Tiago Splitter in the first half with tightness in his left calf. Splitter was questionable to play due to the calf injury, but got the start anyway. He finished with two points and two rebounds in eight minutes. … San Antonio had not played since a 102-100 victory over Atlanta. Wednesday’s game against Minnesota in Mexico City was postponed due to an electrical fire. … Before a free throw late in the game, a fan yelled to referee Bill Kennedy, `’Did they run out of medium and large shirts?" The muscular Kennedy turned to the crowd with a bemused look and smiled.