FICKS THE KNICKS
REGGIE AND HAYWOOD
Game Time Start: 8:00 PM ET
Where: The Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Officials: D. Stafford, D. Collins, H. Workman
Media Notes: Indiana Notes, New York Notes
Television: TNT / MSG / TSN 2 (Canada)
Radio: WFNI 1070 AM / WEPN 98.7 FM
NBA Feeds:*NBA Audio League Pass (available free to NBA All-Access members)
*NBA League Pass Broadband (subscription req'd)
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Season Records: (W-L) 21-14 Home: 13-3
23-11 Away: 10-7
Upcoming Games: Jan 12 Jan 13 Jan 15 Jan 16 vs at at vs 7:00pm 7:00pm 7:00pm 7:00pm
Projected Starting Lineup: HIBBERT WEST GEORGE STEPHENSON HILL Projected Starting Lineup: CHANDLER CAMBY COPELAND BREWER KIDD
Danny Granger - left knee tendinosis (out)
George Hill - bronchitis-itis (probabable)
Carmelo Anthony - curling up with some Cheerios (suspended)
Raymond Felton - fractured right finger (out)
Iman Shumpert - torn left ACL and meniscus (out)
Rasheed Wallace - sore left foot (questionable)
Perpetually Disappointing Trader Joe Minimally Relevant Video:
Eight Points Nine Seconds: Tim Donahue: Paul George Scary Good in Statement Win Over the Heat
Indiana defeated the Miami Heat 87-77 Tuesday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It’s a
regular season game in early January, so the effects are little more than palliative, but
there are still some things that shone through tonight.
First, the Pacers defense is as serious as a heart attack. Coming into the night, Indy
was #1 in the Association in defensive efficiency, allowing fewer than 96 points per
100 possessions overall. They were also the best at home, allowing fewer than 94
points per 100. Miami’s 109 points per 100 was third in the NBA, and their 105/100
was fifth best away from home.
The Pacers held the Heat to a season-low 77 points, and only 93 points per 100. After
falling behind 51-44 with 8:23 left in the third, Indy allowed only 26 points over the
final 20 minutes.
Second, Paul George is not kidding around.
In a contest against the two best wings – arguably best players – in the game today,
Paul George took a turn as the best player in the building.
In a 12-minute stretch from the 8-minute mark in the third to the 8-minute mark in
the fourth, the Pacers hung a 33-9 drubbing on the defending champs. Paul George
– by himself – outscored Miami 17-9 and almost matched their six rebounds with
five of his own.
It’s difficult to tell what the crowning moment of the night was for the third year
player out of Fresno State. Was it the pull up three to extend the lead back after
Miami started to dig back in? Was it the post up on James, where he stuck a
turnaround 15-footer in his mug? Was it the game long defensive effort on James
Doesn’t matter...CONTINUE READING AT 8p9s
Ball Don’t Lie Preview: Dan Divine: Paul George outduels LeBron as Pacers serve notice that they’re still here
Last year, the Indiana Pacers didn't get much national attention until late in the season,
when they'd already cemented themselves as one of the league's best, most balanced
teams. After winning a playoff series and giving the Miami Heat all they could handle
in the second round, the Pacers didn't catch anyone by surprise this year; most
observers (us included) picked the Pacers to win the Central Division and again
challenge for the conference crown.
But then Danny Granger hurt his left knee, taking away the Pacers' leading scorer.
Center Roy Hibbert and point guard George Hill struggled to live up to their big new
contracts, and offseason acquisitions D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green and Ian Mahinmi
were awful for the season's first month. The biggest thing, though? Paul George — the
team's first-round pick in 2010, a long, skilled and super-athletic two-way player who
took a big step in his second season and looked poised to become a matchup
nightmare in Year 3 — stumbled, too.
The 22-year-old swingman struggled when asked to assume Granger's offensive role,
shooting less than 40 percent from the floor over the season's first month and looking
less than stellar in his first crack at being a primary NBA scoring threat. As a result,
last season's top-10 offense plummeted to the league's third worst after 16 games
(and would've been worse if not for metronome-steady power forward David West)
and only the NBA's stingiest defense kept the Pacers at .500. Indy already suffered
nationally from a lack of stars; now they were a starless team with underperforming
pieces that couldn't score and turned most games into grind-it-out rockfights. And so,
folks haven't talked about them much.
That might change after Tuesday's home win over the Heat, though. Because while
the underlying story is the Pacer D holding Miami's No. 3-ranked offense to a season
-low 77 points and less than one point per possession for just the fourth time this
season (thanks, Kevin Pelton), the overarching one is that, while the rest of us
weren't watching, George has started playing like a star. A 29-point, 11-rebound,
one-turnover performance turned in primarily against LeBron James tends to make
folks stand up and take notice of that.
Twenty-two of George's team-high 29 came after halftime, including 12 (on 5 for 9
shooting) in a critical third quarter in which he nearly outscored the clamped-down
Heat himself by himself, tilting the game in Indy's favor and putting the Pacers in
position for a statement win to celebrate coach Frank Vogel's recently signed
After the game, George made no attempt to downplay how important it was for him
to perform well against the reigning regular-season and NBA Finals MVP, according
to Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press:
"It's a chance to for me to see where I'm at, going against one of the best, if not,
the best in the league," George said. "Another challenge to myself to go at LeBron.
I definitely wanted to battle him."
And he did, using his 6-foot-10 frame to harass James into a 4-for-10 first half
before shaking off his own early offensive struggles to get loose in the second half.
He didn't hold the MVP down entirely — James finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds,
four assists and two blocks, though he also turned the ball over an uncharacteristic
seven times — but on Tuesday night he gave the Pacers an edge in a matchup that
Miami certainly isn't accustomed to losing, or even having in question.
It was a pretty monstrous role reversal from the last time the two players met, in
the second round of the 2012 Eastern Conference playoffs, which the Pacers lost
four games to two as George shot just 36.5 percent from the floor and frequently
seemed tentative in his attempts to defend James and running buddy Dwyane
Wade. As Vogel sees it, for George to turn the tables at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on
Tuesday was just another big step in an ongoing series of them, according to Mike
Wells of the Indianapolis Star:
“It was huge for him,” Vogel said. “He took it very, very personal, not just what he
did last year in the regular season, but he did not have a good series. He took a lot
of criticism. It was very important to him to be assertive and to prove he’s growing.
He’s really blossoming in front of our eyes.”
The growth has been evident over the past five weeks, which have seen George
average 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game and shoot 44
percent from the floor, 37 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent on free throws.
This includes a pair of down performances in Indy's recent back-to-back against the
Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks; before that, as SB Nation's Paul Flannery noted,
George had averaged 21/8/4/2 on 47 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3
over his previous 15 games.
George's offensive uptick has coincided...CONTINUE READING AT BALL DON'T LIE