May 12, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT
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.”
Report: Kevin Love going to “look around” this summer as free agent; Celtics, Lakers, Rockets possible
May 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
I expect Love will stay with the Cavaliers this summer, but a lot of people around the league are not so convinced.
John Wall kicked off plane in Las Vegas after someone in his group allegedly threatened another passenger
May 29, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
No charges were filed, but …
Bulls GM: Permission would have been granted for other teams to talk to Thibodeau, but ‘nobody called’
May 28, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT
Maybe because they knew Thibodeau would be available eventually.
May 28, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT
Tough to see him as a stronger candidate than at least two others. Unless …
May 28, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
Thompson was throwing up after the game.
May 28, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
Players supposedly said they’d avoid team facility this summer if Thibodeau remained the head coach.
May 28, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
How this was handled raises questions.
May 28, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT
Thibodeau was fired as Bulls head coach on Thursday.
May 28, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
Wade wants a bigger contract when he opts out this summer.
May 28, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
The 2012 first-round pick has played in three NBA games.
May 28, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
Okay Bulls, now find someone better.
Bulls front office on Tom Thibodeau firing: “We probably wouldn’t be sitting here if we won a championship”
May 28, 2015, 4:28 PM EDT
The team believes not beating the Cavaliers was a missed opportunity.
May 28, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
As he should
May 28, 2015, 2:42 PM EDT
American president tweets about LeBron James and J.R. Smith
May 28, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT
Two words: Vivek Ranadivé
May 28, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Clippers center reportedly interested in signing with Dallas
May 28, 2015, 12:55 PM EDT
Kevin Love might leave the Cavaliers in free agency. Cleveland fans, if history is any indication, wouldn’t treat him well if he does. What would Love’s peers think? Colin Cowherd asked Jared Dudley – whom you might remember from saying players avoid Kobe Bryant Bryant and calling Carmelo Anthony the NBA’s most overrated player –…
May 28, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT
Bulls owner Jerry Reinsforf: ‘There must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone’s ideas and opinions. These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private.’
May 28, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT
Chicago reportedly plans to resolve standoff by Friday
May 28, 2015, 10:41 AM EDT
Denver reportedly has not interviewed Mike D’Antoni
- Report: Kevin Love going to “look around” this summer as free agent; Celtics, Lakers, Rockets possible 0
- PBT Extra: Did Chicago make the right move in firing Thibodeau? 22
- Bulls front office on Tom Thibodeau firing: “We probably wouldn’t be sitting here if we won a championship” 11
- Bulls fire Tom Thibodeau 61
- Dwight Howard: “I’m still a champion. And I won’t let anyone tell me anything different.” 71
- Rockets had an excellent season. Are they content with that? 23
- Harden struggles, Warriors role players step up leading team to Finals for first time in 40 years 42
- Dwight Howard hit with suspension-triggering technical foul 7