There were multiple stars on Friday night that helped the Indiana Pacers snap out of, even if for just a single game, a funk they’ve been experiencing for several weeks. It was a combination of the starting five and second unit — most notably Paul George, Luis Scola, Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner — that generated many roars of applause from the sellout crowd of 18,165 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
One could certainly look at Scola as having a stellar performance. The Argentina native scored a season-high 19 points in only 21 minutes off the bench for Indiana. He led a second-quarter surge that pushed the Pacers ahead of the Chicago Bulls for what would be the remainder of the game.
Turner created many of the open looks for Scola, dribbling through traffic to draw multiple defenders, only to dish the rock to his open teammate(s) for easy buckets. He finished with an efficient 6 points and 7 assists in 20 minutes.
Stephenson was certainly active, and when he is, Indiana is undoubtedly a better squad because they can feed off of his youthful energy. Sir Lance-A-Lot contributed 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the floor.
Despite a total team effort, the single player that probably needed some confidence the most was none other than All-Star Paul George. The 24-year-old Fresno State product capped the victory with his first triple-double of the season late in the fourth quarter.
George did not have anything close to an effective night with his jump shot, so he decided to drive to the basket twice late in the game. The first time, he didn’t draw contact and wound up losing the ball. His second chance at getting to the free-throw line was successful as George drew a foul on Chicago’s Joakim Noah.
PG stepped up to the charity stripe and knocked down the first free throw. Another one of the many roars from the home crowd sang quite loudly as fans knew what the youngster had accomplished: his first stat line of the season that featured double-digit numbers in three separate, but equally important, categories.
George’s final tally read 10 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists.
Again, not the most explosive scoring night. More importantly, George was effective and had a positive impact on the game. Head coach Frank Vogel made clear his joy in seeing PG pass the ball to the open man and play together. This team can win without George hoisting 25 shots in order to score 30 points.
Playing within the rhythm of the offense is what matters. Indiana is built as a team, and thus shall play as a unit. Paul George’s triple-double is a big part of the confidence that his team hopes he packed in his bags, striving to build on the 91-79 victory over the Bulls leading into a showdown with the Memphis Grizzlies tonight.