Skip to content

Paul George introduces himself to much of America with breakout game… that got overshadowed

May 23, 2013, 2:08 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game One Getty Images

America, meet Paul George.

He’s the Pacer that hit the insane, dramatic three pointer that sent Game 1 against the Heat into overtime. He’s the guy that drew the superstar call on Dwyane Wade, then with ice water in his veins hit three free throws to give Indiana the lead with 2.2 seconds left in overtime. He’s the guy assigned the thankless task of guarding LeBron James and did a pretty good job — between the start of the second quarter and the end of regulation George held him to 6-of-15 shooting (which is pretty dang good against the two-time MVP). He’s the guy who led Indiana with 27 points, plus had 5 assists and got to the free throw line 11 times.

This was his national coming out party — he’s a big-time NBA star, not just a guy basketball people admire…

Except that his not how this game will be remembered.

What will be talked about is LeBron’s layup — a play where George overplayed LeBron and in doing so gave him a direct path to the rim. What’s going to be talked about is Miami escaping with a win in Game 1.

And George will be an afterthought. Which is too bad, because he was brilliant — and the Pacers wouldn’t have been anywhere near a position to win without him. Still, George knows how this will be remembered.

“I gotta understand, you make LeBron shoot a jumper at that point,” George said after the game of the final play.

“I grabbed him after the game and quickly told him to forget about the last play,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s a third year player, and he’s playing the best player in the world, someone that is arguably going to go down as one of the best players in the history of the game, and he’s just playing him toe-to-toe, playing his tail off, competing very hard. I’m very proud of his whole effort.”

George is not a guy that casual basketball fans knew — a lot of those fans can’t name any Pacers players — but basketball people have been admiring him all season. George was an up-and-coming player who got thrust into a much larger role this year with Danny Granger being out — George went from being the second option to the guy everybody counted on for points.

And he responded — he took on much more of the Pacers offense (23.7 percent usage rate) and earned 17.4 points a game, not to mention the 7.6 rebounds, 4 assists and being a key part of the NBA’s best defense. All that earned him the NBA’s Most Improved Player award this year.

That didn’t mean he was known. He’s a guy with two first names who played his college ball in Fresno and now toils in Indiana — not many people have seen him play, or really watched him if they have.

And their first half impression of him was not going to be great — he shot 1-of-4 with three turnovers. He struggled against LeBron in the first quarter but in the second played some good defense.

But in the second half and overtime he carried the Pacers — 25 points, he got to the line 11 times, and hit 3-of-4 from three. On defense he didn’t stop LeBron but he made the Heat star really work for his points. He made LeBron far less efficient.

George kept the Pacers right in this game. People noticed.

Next people knew his name after, with less than a second left in regulation, he hit a 29-foot three that sent the game into overtime.

Next people were screaming his name — with time running out in overtime and the Pacers down two the play in a scramble after Norris Cole knocked the ball free. But George got it, took a three again and drew the foul from Dwyane Wade. We’ll be generous and say it was a borderline call — certainly not a call you expect to see made at the end of games — but George got it. It was a superstar call and the refs gave it to him. Then he coolly sank all three free throws and had the Pacers up one with 2.2 seconds left.

But George made some mistakes on the night. Like the lime-green paisley shirt he wore to the press conference. Or the pass he threw late in the game to Sam Young on the bench (apparently mistaking him for a guy in the game).

Or when he overplayed LeBron’s entry pass with two seconds left in overtime and gave him a path to the basket and the game winner.

Like it was for the Pacers, for George this was a learning experience. A painful one.

But in three resilient NBA years he has shown he learns from his mistakes. And that could be trouble for the Heat because George almost lifted the Pacers to a Game 1 win.

Latest Posts
  1. Nets defense smothers Raptors, gets Brooklyn Game 1 win on road

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:06 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) battles under the hoop with Brooklyn Nets centre Kevin Garnett (2) but they couldn't get it done as the Nets won 94-87 Getty Images

    Playoff games are played in the halfcourt and the Nets owned that in Game 1.

  2. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri screams ‘F— Brooklyn’ to crowd at rally before Game 1 vs. Nets (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT

    Masai Ujiri AP

    A rare and raw show of emotion from a team’s GM was caught on camera.

  3. Toronto Sun fires shot at aging Brooklyn Nets (PHOTO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce

    “Garnett and Pierce are so old the Raptor had to ask his dad about them.”

  4. Adam Silver says after owners’ meeting raising age limit top priority

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    The owners are behind Silver’s effort to raise the age limit. Now there’s just the pesky matter of negotiating with the players’ union.

  5. PBT Extra: Are Pacers or Spurs in any trouble in first round?

    Apr 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Paul George, Pero Antic Paul George, Pero Antic

    You can construct a scenario where the Pacers are in trouble… except they play the Hawks.

  6. All PBT’s first round playoff previews in one place

    Apr 19, 2014, 2:15 AM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7 Getty Images

    Making your playoff preview reading convenient.

  7. Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes suspended 20 games for violating NBA’s anti-drug policy

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:54 AM EDT

    Nick Calathes, Damian Lillard AP

    Grizzlies’ guard will definitely be missed in the rotation.

  8. Craig Sager has acute leukemia

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:50 AM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five

    We may not see him on the sidelines of TNT games these playoffs.

  9. NBA Playoff Preview: Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:55 PM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors Getty Images

    This should be the East’s most competitive first round matchup.

  10. NBA Playoff Preview: Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat

    Apr 18, 2014, 10:31 PM EDT

    How quickly can Miami flip the switch?

  11. NBA Playoff Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Can the Pacers regain their early-season swagger now that the playoffs are here?

  12. PBT Extra: Clippers/Warriors playoff preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Expect a fight by the end of Game 2.

  13. PBT Extra: Nets/Raptors playoff preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    Kyle Lowry, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams Kyle Lowry, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams

    People shouldn’t sleep on the Raptors, particularly the Nets.

  14. NBA Playoff Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert Tony Parker, Samuel Dalembert

    Dallas has lost nine straight to San Antonio. Don’t expect that streak to stop now.

  15. Ties broken, NBA Draft lottery odds, second half of draft now set

    Apr 18, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Grant Gilbert AP

    All the draft lottery odds are here, so Lakers fans can look and see what that little run of wins to close out the season did to their odds.

  16. PBT Podcast: NBA playoff preview edition

    Apr 18, 2014, 3:27 PM EDT

    Larry O'Brien trophy Getty Images

    We look at all 8 first round series.

Featured video

Warriors vs. Clippers playoff preview
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Anthony (3629)
  2. D. Wade (3587)
  3. L. James (3582)
  4. D. Williams (3568)
  5. S. Curry (3531)
  1. K. Love (3460)
  2. R. Westbrook (3179)
  3. K. Durant (3049)
  4. A. Bogut (3009)
  5. R. Rondo (2827)