Pacers 99, Trail Blazers 92
A few different versions of Paul George have been showing up
lately for the Indiana Pacers. The dominant one made an appearance
Wednesday night against Portland.
George scored 22 points to help Indiana beat the Trail Blazers
99-92 on Wednesday night.
George, Indiana’s No. 2 scorer this season, has been
inconsistent. He scored four points at Sacramento and went
scoreless at Golden State before exploding for 34 points at Chicago
on Tuesday night.
He followed that by scoring 14 of his 22 points in the second
half against the Trail Blazers.
The question remains whether the talented 22-year-old is just
teasing the Pacers with the back-to-back strong efforts.
”You just watch him and some of the shots that he’s making and
you think, `Boy, if he could ever stabilize and do this on a
consistent basis,”’ Indiana coach Frank Vogel said.
George doesn’t worry about the consistency issue as much as
”I don’t look at it like that anymore,” George said. ”I just
come out and play. I feel like I’m preparing myself well enough to
just go out and play, take the shots that are there and be
confident in those shots.”
George Hill added 18 points and David West had 16 points and 10
rebounds for the Pacers (10-9) , who have won four of five and
moved above .500 for the first time since a 2-1 start. Indiana, the
league leader in scoring defense, held the Blazers to 43 percent
”We guarded,” Vogel said. ”We try to take pride in being the
best defensive team in the NBA and we got after it. By getting
stops we were able to get out and break a little bit and get some
Damian Lillard led Portland (8-11) with 23 points. Though the
Pacers were strong defensively overall, they had no answer for the
rookie, who constantly blew past his defenders.
”He was the focal point of our defense tonight,” Vogel said.
”We knew we had to contain Lillard and he still got off on us. He
had a great night and he’s a special talent and he has a bright
future ahead of him.”
Wesley Matthews scored 19, LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and
10 rebounds, and J.J. Hickson had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the
Portland was solid in the first half then played poorly in the
third quarter before finishing strong.
”We’ve been playing up and down, kind of going through
spurts,” Aldridge said. ”If I knew why we were playing like that,
I could fix it.”
Indiana outscored Portland 31-14 in the third quarter to take
control. The Trail Blazers made a push in the fourth but could get
no closer than four.
”It seemed like we were on our heels and weren’t aggressive,”
Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ”They were much more
Hickson’s tip-in at the buzzer gave the Blazers a 50-48 lead at
halftime. Lillard had 14 points at the break for Portland.
Indiana opened the second half on a 6-0 run to take a 54-50
A 3-pointer and a pair of free throws by George gave the Pacers
a 67-60 edge, and Ian Mahinmi’s basket in close pushed Indiana’s
lead to nine and forced Portland to call a timeout.
A fast-break layup by George out of the break bumped Indiana’s
lead to double digits, and a free throw by D.J. Augustin closed out
the 10-0 run. During that three-minute stretch, the Trail Blazers
went 0-for-3 from the field and committed three turnovers.
West’s putback in the final seconds of the third quarter gave
Indiana a 79-64 lead entering the fourth. Indiana held Portland to
7-for-19 shooting in the third. George, who had eight points in the
first half, scored nine in the quarter.
George picked up where he left off, draining a 3-pointer from
the corner in the opening minute of the fourth to give the Pacers
an 18-point lead.
Portland battled back in the early minutes of the fourth.
Matthews hit two free throws to trim Indiana’s lead to 85-79 and
Lillard added a layup to make it 85-81.
But Indiana regrouped. A drive by George and a last-second dish
for a dunk by Hill gave Indiana a 93-86 lead with just over four
Portland had a chance to cut Indiana’s lead to three, but
Hibbert blocked Hickson’s shot and pulled in the rebound with 50
seconds to play.
”It was a nice effort at the end, but we just can’t put
ourselves in those positions,” Stotts said.
The Pacers, who struggled out of the gate, are starting to look
like the team that pushed Miami in the second round of the Eastern
Conference playoffs last season.
”A lot of things are starting to come together,” George said.
”We’re starting to knock down shots, we’re starting to see the
open man. We’re starting to play the style that we played last
Notes: Pacers F Danny Granger remains out with left patellar
tendinosis. … Hibbert entered the game second in the league with
3.06 blocks per contest. He had three more on Wednesday. … West
was issued a technical foul in the second quarter. … Lillard was
named Western Conference rookie of the month on Wednesday. …
Mahinmi scored a season-high 12 points to help Indiana’s reserves
outscore Portland’s 31-13. … Portland fell to 2-5 on its road