Welcome back, Paul George.
George is quickly returning to his All-Star form.
Against the Miami Heat on Friday night, George had 36 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 90-87 victory.
George scored 10 points in the final quarter and helped the Pacers dig out of an early hole in the fourth quarter to even their record at 3-3 and hand Miami (3-3) its eighth consecutive loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
He iced the game at the free throw line with 4.1 seconds left as chants of ”M-V-P” showered him in a game that felt like those Heat-Pacers playoff games in recent years.
His coach appreciated the consistency – George made 14-of-27 shots in nearly 38 minutes.
“Not really surprising to me. I’ve been watching him do this since midsummer,” Frank Vogel said. “He’s looked fully healthy and explosive and he works. He really, really works on his game.”
His co-star and closest teammate recognized when to take a step back to allow George to work.
“When you see a guy rolling,” George Hill said. “You’ve got to milk the cow.”
Even an opponent admired the view of vintage Paul that powered the Pacers to a third straight win
“He’s a hell of a player,” Heat forward Josh McRoberts said. “It felt like it was one of his great performances.”
“That’s how our games always are,” George said about the past rivalry. “It’s never really blowouts, either way against this team. We knew coming in, so it’s good we were able to rise to the occasion.”
George put up 12 shots through 12 minutes played in the first quarter. He drained all five of his attempts through the third. He even got into a little shoving match with the Heat’s string bean center Hassan Whiteside in the fourth quarter. After the double technical and on the Pacers’ next offensive play, he blazed Whiteside with the 20-foot jumper.
“That was (an) in your face moment,” George said.
From that 4:08 mark, George broke the tie then took over. In the team’s last 11 possessions, George took five shots and also earned two trips to the foul line as the Pacers built a slight lead and held off the Heat.
“When a guy’s rolling like that, you’ve got to keep feeding him until the well is dry,” Hill said. “He did a great job of really not trying to force the issue but really making plays when we needed it.”