Paul George has been an assassin for the past month, racking up 30 point games with ease on the strength of glorious accuracy from behind the arc. He is shooting exactly 50% (54-of-108) from 3-point range in his last 14 games, averaging 30.7 ppg as the Pacers have gone 12-2. On the season, in the whole NBA, only Steph Curry (with an ungodly 102 made triples) has hit more 3s than Paul George’s 56.
In summation, before his injury, Paul George was an excellent scorer and arguably the best wing defender in the NBA. Now he has added “shooting like Kyle Korver” to that resume.
He was particularly electric last night in the Pacers win in Los Angeles over the Clippers, their second victory in Staples Center in three nights. He made 5-of-9 treys on his way to 31 points and 10 boards while taking it upon himself to let Lance Stephenson know that the former teammates who no longer share the same wing also don’t share the same stratosphere anymore.
Stephenson, as he is wont to do, tried to be playful and appeared to goad PG a little bit into some one-on-one battles. George took the challenge and treated Lance like the lil’ brother he is, smoking him on the court while giving him the proverbial pat him on the head. Good try, good effort.
After one particularly beautiful 3, Solomon Hill got amped.
He has been an active bench cheerleader all season, which is a good sign that he truly values team success over his personal career goals. Last season, Solomon Hill started a team-high 78 games and played a team-high 2,381 minutes on a team that was so decimated by injuries that nobody else even logged 2,000 minutes.
This season, however, Solo has rode the pine. Hard. All season. He has seen just 43 minutes while appearing in just six of the team’s 17 games. Only rookie second-round pick Joe Young (40 minute), undrafted second-year big man Shayne Whittington (2 minutes), and rookie second-round pick Rakeem Christmas, who has spent most of the year in the D-League have played less.
But who’s the guy who doesn’t seem to care and is busting out 3-swords on the bench to celebrate Paul George’s big plays? Who’s the guy who has been falling out of his chair on the bench when PG lights up another helpless defender? Who’s the guy on the verge of joining the Patty Mills First-Team for bench celebrations?
Our own Whitney Medworth had the eagle eyes to catch Solomon Hill in this particularly garish celebration last night. She captured the moment and put it on Vine.
Fortunetely, Solo saw it somewhere on the intertubes and decided to tell the world what he was up to.
“Sir [Paul George] has been knighted by the graces of the 3-sword. [Glenn Robinson] laid witness to the claim, 3rd of his name.”
Seven hells, you can’t even make this stuff up.
Ultimately, stuff like this won’t carry you to the Eastern Conference finals — or better. You need the talent, the Xs and Os, and the big plays in the postseason that take you to the next round. But stuff like this does matter somewhat. The scorching-hot 2013-14 Pacers fell apart mid-way through the year and internal issues were widely used to explain the unexplainable.
Make no mistake: The current Pacers are winning because they are good, not because Solomon Hill is accepting his non-playing role. But teamwide cohesion and joy can help. These are the minor sacrifices, along with C.J. Miles taking on the power forward duties that Paul George was supposed to accept, that should help ensure Monta Ellis keeps busting his ass on D all year and Jordan Hill continues to maybe the first time in his career looks like he loves basketballs.
So here’s to Solomon Hill, The Unburnt, King of the Benchmen and the Wildcats, Breaker of Zones, Protector of the 3-Sword, First of His Name.