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Paul George has Pacers on verge of conference finals

May 12, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT

Paul George, John Wall Paul George, John Wall

WASHINGTON – Paul George stood at the entrance to the press-conference room.

“Are they ready?” George asked as he buttoned his shirt.

Earlier in the night, George wasn’t so docile. Ready for him or not – and they sure didn’t appear to be – the Washington Wizards saw plenty of the Indiana Pacers star.

George scored 39 points – the most by an Pacer in a playoff game in eight years – and led Indiana to a 95-92 Game 4 win Sunday. Up 3-1 in the series, the Pacers are just one game from the Eastern Conference Finals and can qualify with a home win in Game 5 Wednesday.

Before the game, Indiana coach Frank Vogel offered Paul George a break from always guarding Bradley Beal, the Wizards leading playoff scorer. During the game, Vogel repeatedly offered to rest George.

George said no each time.

He played more than 46 minutes, sitting only for the final 1:37 of the first quarter.

“I hate not finishing off my assignment,” George said.

Now, the Pacers appear primed to finish the assignment most expected them to complete – returning to the conference finals and battling the Miami Heat there. Indiana’s road looked rocky late in the regular season and downright hazardous during a first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, but the Pacers keep doing just enough to overcome their self-inflicted adversity.

Sunday, Indiana trailed by 19 in the third quarter, briefly tied the game early in the fourth quarter and then trailed by nine with six minutes left. Does a comeback like that finally answer the questions surrounding the Pacers?

“Those are your guys’ questions,” Vogel said. “You guys can keep asking them or answering them. We never lost confidence in our group here, and tonight was indicative of why.”

That starts with George and Roy Hibbert, who has now contributed three straight quality performances with 17 points, nine rebounds and two blocks Sunday.

Until George Hill split a pair of free throws with six seconds left – leaving the Wizards a chance to tie on a 3-pointer with 6.1 seconds remaining that they bungled when Trevor Ariza threw the inbound pass out of bounds – George and Hibbert scored 18 straight Indiana points.

When Hibbert is steady, the Pacers stop underachieving. When George plays like this, their ceiling rises.

Nobody else on the roster can elevate Indiana like George. George, who scored a career-high 43 in Dec. 2013, is the only Pacer to score this much in any game in the last four years .

Sunday, he made 7-of-10 3-pointers, grabbed 12 rebounds and hounded Beal defensively while getting two steals.

“He’s made my job tough,” said Beal, who should be commended for still scoring 20 points on 14 shots.

Beal didn’t spend a second on the court without George also there, and the Washington guard rarely spent that time free of George.

Vogel praised George and David West for leading vocally, and George’s heavy workload backed up his words.

“There was a moment where I was pretty gassed,” George said. “But that second wind kicked in. Once we started to build momentum, it seemed like I wasn’t tired.”

Tired of the Pacers and their brand of defense-first, slow-the-pace basketball? Get over it, They’re almost definitely headed back to the Eastern Conference Finals to play foil to the popular Heat.

And they’re in this position thanks to to George.

“What he did tonight was special,” Vogel said. “There’s no other way to put it.”

  1. money2long - May 12, 2014 at 12:37 AM

    I think better tv is pacers-heat anyway so anyone hoping for anything otherwise in the ECF, I beg you to digress. I like heavyweight matchups. I wouldn’t mind seeing the heat go 7 games with Brooklyn just because that series has storylines. I hope the pacers wrap up the wizards season ASAP. They need to work on getting a better bench. I almost forgot Otto porter was on that team.

    • 00maltliquor - May 12, 2014 at 12:43 AM

      Doesn’t matter who the Heat face in the ECF, they are waltzing into the Finals easy, without a dance partner. They aren’t losing more then 2 games to anybody out East.

      I would only want Indy to meet up with them because of ego, since that’s who I said would be there with them from the beginning. Honestly I would love to see the Wiz pull off the impossible despite my own predictions.

  2. 00maltliquor - May 12, 2014 at 12:44 AM

    why I keep getting blocked pbt?? you guys are ridiculous

    • 00maltliquor - May 12, 2014 at 12:45 AM

      Oh! now I finally get through!! errrrrrrr

  3. mnsadsportsfan - May 12, 2014 at 12:53 AM

    In crunch time george hill and lance stephenson freak me out !

    • davidly - May 12, 2014 at 7:27 AM

      Yeah. Like a novella by Robert Lance Stephenson entitled The Strange Pass of Dr Ready and Mr Hill. I hope they talk over and work out the kinks of those last coupla plays, cuz I don’t wanna be forever referring to them as Clutch & D’oh!

    • bougin89 - May 13, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      Yeah they did. Stephenson was ready to throw that game away. Relax Lance, it’s not a hot potatoe…

  4. pantsfreezone - May 12, 2014 at 2:36 AM

    Both of these teams are garbage. The Pacers rely on the referees to win and the Wizards can’t close or play with a lead.

    This round needs to die already, other than LAC-OKC which I want 7 games of thanks.

  5. pacers2014champs - May 12, 2014 at 3:22 AM

    Pacers in 6 vs Spurs in the Finals

  6. ludacrish05 - May 12, 2014 at 6:27 AM

    I’m just not a fan of john walls game, he forces to many things

  7. sportfan2 - May 12, 2014 at 7:04 AM

    Got to give Pacers credit for coming back from the dead.

  8. ravenswhat - May 12, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    This guy’s doing good for himself. Dating Rivers royalty, sleeping with his Center’s fiancé, getting hot in the playoffs at the right time.

    • kb2408 - May 12, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      Stop relying on TMZ for your news.

      • sportsfan18 - May 12, 2014 at 11:05 AM

        stop relying on Kobe’s for yours…

    • jkirby317 - May 12, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      Quick… Someone blame this on Larry Bird or “catfishing”
      Is it possible to give Indiana credit?

    • john242322 - May 12, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      Lol you’re ignorant if you actually think PG did that – No man can continue to be best friend’s with another man who slept with their fiancé. Hence why it’s not true – Hibby is PG’s biggest supporter

    • pacersfan1 - May 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      Haters going to hate. Let’s all worry about the basketball and not personal lives of players. Or does your life suck that much?

  9. nard100 - May 12, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Got to give credit where it is due. The Pacers are starting look legit. I think the Wizards will learn from this series and at some point understand the importance of composure. The definitely have the talent to win this series, but they can’t seem to withstand runs by the Pacers. At critical time they revert to hero-ball and start trying to his 3’s when they just need to pound the paint for 2’s.

  10. 12444uggg - May 12, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    1 more win then I’ll give my “see I told ya so”.

  11. john242322 - May 12, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    PG was on a different level last night. Great to watch. Only thing is, he’s capable of this type of performance every night so he needs to play more consistently like this. This guy is a special player who exerts so much energy every game guarding the other team’s best player. Truly impressive performance

  12. jattsoorma - May 12, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    so the heat are already in the conferance finals?

  13. stlouis1baseball - May 12, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    Alright…is this Larry’s fault? How about Roy. Is this win Roy’s fault? Or Lance Stephenson?
    Ohh…I got it. It’s Coach Vogel’s fault. Dude simply can’t coach.
    PG is way over-rated too. I mean…39 and 12? Pffft…luckiest 39 and 12 you will ever see.

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