Indiana Pacers’ star forward Paul George continues to add to his rapidly-growing, late-game dominance of his young NBA career. He has picked up where he left off in the playoffs last season.
Despite a tough outing against the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, George played stellar basketball versus the New York Knicks in the semifinals and for the majority of the Pacers-Heat series. Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City was no different than last year’s playoffs.
George stayed quiet through the first 24 minutes of the Pacers’ 103-96 overtime win on Wednesday night. Nobody thought he would come out and score 28 points in the second half and overtime to spark an Indiana win. Nineteen of those point came in the fourth quarter as Indiana rallied to force the OT session. George then outscored the Knicks 9-7 by himself in the extra period.
For those who missed the nationally-televised game on ESPN, George was unstoppable even when everyone knew he wasn’t going to give up the rock. He used his crossover dribble, fadeaway shot, and driving ability at will en route to his game-high 35 points.
Following the game, no one was talking about Carmelo Anthony’s double-double of 30 points and 18 rebounds. That is because Anthony went 3-14 with two turnovers and two offensive fouls in the second half and overtime – when the game mattered most. At MSG, it was yet again a Pacer that stole the show.
At least for Knick fans’ sake, his name wasn’t Reggie Miller. However, if they aren’t already, New Yorkers ought to get used to hearing the name Paul George.
George added 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assists, 2 blocked shots with only one turnover in 48 minutes. Did I mention he scored 35 points (a season-high)?
The Indiana Pacers have become accustomed to George having more dominant second halves so far this season. He leads the NBA in third-quarter scoring. In games this season at New Orleans, at Detroit, vs. Toronto, at Brooklyn and at New York, Paul George has taken over the second half to help his team to victory. Those have been the Pacers’ closest games this fall, and you might have noticed only one of them was at home. That shows you George’s ability not only at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in front of the home fans, but also on the road in tougher environments.
Moral of the story: Paul George has proven he is among the NBA elite in terms of scoring, athleticism, defending and closing a game. Indiana, you’re looking at the present and future face of Pacers basketball.