Paul George had a fourth quarter of lore in Game 5, scoring 21 points on 10 shots while propelling his team to victory. It was the type of performance that every kid shooting alone for hours on a hoop runs through in his head, turning the monotony of lofting jumper after jumper into a dreamscape afternoon of wonder.
It was magical. It was glorious. And it never seemed to end.
I could barely even get to the point of “I can’t BELIEVE this is happening” before George was hitting another highly contested jumper or staring down at Hall of Famers just to let them know about the pull up he was going to unleash in their mug or turning a Miami pass into a dunk on the other end.
This was the entree Pacers’ fans had long been waiting for since the appetizer George served them with his late-game heroics against the Trail Blazers earlier in the year. In that game, his seemingly never-ending barrage of brilliance (he hit 5 triples in the final 3 minutes) wasn’t quite enough to overcome what had been a large deficit, but it was a low-stakes regular season game, so the spectacular outshined the outcome.
Since then, Hoosiers had been sitting at the table, still unsatisfied from that delicious-yet-small first plate. Worse, they had been forced to order cocktail after cocktail in the interim — first out of boredom and, increasingly, to dull their exasperation at how poorly the waiter was doing his job.
It all changed in the fourth quarter of Game 5.
George came through with a 24-ounce Argentine steak, and it was more fulfilling than anyone had expected. Some may not remember the evening as fondly as others, scoffing that the wait was too long and that no level of quality can make up for it. Others may think this dinner analogy is wearing thin.
Regardless, Paul George’s fourth quarter takeover was a glorious outburst that those less concerned with trophies and more captivated by spontaneous greatness will never forget.
Let’s relive the splendor in all its glory.
This is vintage Paul George. Not only does he get around a screen with the ease of a river passing a boulder, but he beats Ray Allen to the spot by so much that George is able to make the steal with his inside hand. Then he finishes on the break with two change-of-direction moves that leave Mr. Shuttlesworth helpless to prevent the dunk.
This is one of the better post moves I’ve ever seen Paul George make. Mambaesque.
This play: Further proving my theory that good things happen when David West gets the ball in “his office.” I can’t wait until SportsVu is advanced enough to track things like “Indiana’s offensive rating on possessions in which David West gets a touch in the jump-ball circle around the free throw line.” As for George, just look at his little one-foot double hop after he drills another contested shot. Kid is in a zone.
This steal was more LeBron, somewhat ironically, making the type of pass that Paul makes all too often: lazy, soft, and cavalier (no pun intended). Still, you can see how deep his defensive fundamentals go by his perfect stance and him measuring out the passing lane before James even throws the pass, then being right there ready to snatch it after. Moreover, look at how he lands after the dunk. Like he is dismounting from an Olympic rings routine where he held the iron cross for 19 minutes.
Too short, Dwyane. (Excellent pass by Hill.)
Come on now, PG. Dwyane’s family is probably watching.
You can get some, too, LeBron.
And … The clincher.
What a monster. Look at the confidence in that post-make swagger.
In the fourth quarter of an elimination game, Paul George pulled off the best performance by any Pacer player since Reggie Miller. And if we’re being honest, the only better games Miller had were the 25-point fourth quarter and the 8 points in 9 seconds moment for which this website is named. The MJ Shove and the bank-3/dunk against the Nets were further immortalizing, but neither included the sustained greatness that George showed for this whole quarter.
The Pacers’ season might end tonight in Miami. And the last few months of this campaign have put a damper on what began as one of the most joyous and must-watch-every-game seasons in Pacers history.
If Indiana can’t pull off the seemingly impossible — beating Miami three straight times — there will be plenty of reasons for Pacers fans to be disappointed.
Still, even if it was just for one quarter, Paul George brought the joy back.
And that’s why we watch.