Game Rewind: Pacers 94, Pistons 82
Though he had a double-double by the end of the third quarter, Paul George was not having the best night on Saturday against the Pistons. The Pacers’ All-Star forward made just 2-of-11 shots while committing seven turnovers through three quarters.
But PG came alive down the stretch, scoring 21 straight points in crunch time to lift Indiana (19-14) to a 94-82 victory over Detroit (18-16).
It all started with the Pacers clinging to a 73-71 lead over Detroit with five minutes to play. George drove to the lane, drew a whistle, and knocked down two free throws.
When Reggie Jackson missed a shot on the other end, George corralled the rebound and glided down the court, just maintaining his balance enough to make an acrobatic layup before crashing down into a camera man on the baseline.
George was no worse for the wear after the fall. In fact, he was just starting to sizzle.
He drained a 3-pointer with 3:48 to play, then duplicated the feat 33 seconds later. He opted for a step-back two-point jumper on the next possession, but returned to the 3-point arc for his next basket.
“I was able to get a layup, get some free throws, kind of put me in a rhythm,” George said. “I felt confident. It was just a matter of time.”
George knocked down two more jumpers in the final minute. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had seen enough by then and quickly picked up two technical fouls (and an automatic ejection), which allowed George to add two more free throws to his final tally.
All told, George scored the Pacers’ final 21 points over 4:47, going a perfect 7-for-7 from the field over that stretch. He finished with 32 points and 14 rebounds, his team-leading ninth double-double of the year.
“He’s the leader of the team,” Pacers forward Solomon Hill said after the victory. “As far as doing it and crunch time plays, that is our go-to guy. He stepped up for us in a huge way.”
The Pacers got off to a slow start offensively, missing eight of their first nine shots and managing just four points over the first six minutes. But the Blue & Gold found their groove shortly thereafter and took the lead with a 9-0 run when their shots started to fall.
Indiana led by as many as seven points in the second quarter, but Detroit closed the half on a 9-1 run to take the upper hand as the teams headed into the locker room.
Indiana regained control when five different players scored during a 9-0 midway through the third quarter. The home team stretched its lead to as many as 10 points with two minutes remaining in the period.
Detroit rallied, cutting the deficit to two on three separate occasions before George took over to close the game.
George Hill added 18 points for Indiana on 7-of-8 shooting, while Monta Ellis chipped in 14.
Andre Drummond, the NBA’s leading rebounder, had 11 points and 18 boards (seven offensive) for Detroit. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also had a double-double for the Pistons, finishing with a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Thursday’s win was a big one for the Pacers, as they hit the road for nine of their next 11, including a four-game trip that start Monday night in Miami.
Inside the Numbers
In addition to his late scoring outburst, George’s 14 rebounds were the most by an individual Pacers player in any game this season.
George has also now topped 30 points in 11 of his first 33 games this season. He has already equaled his career high for most 30-point games in a single season, which he set during the 2013-14 campaign.
George also went 10-for-12 from the free throw line, two days after making 10-of-11 foul shots in Thursday’s loss to Milwaukee. Prior to that game, the two-time All-Star had attempted 10 or more free throws just one time in his previous 12 games.
Both the Pacers and Pistons made 33 field goals, but Indiana did the feat on 20 less attempts. The Pacers’ defense was excellent, holding Detroit to just 35.5 percent shooting overall and 3-for-20 shooting (15 percent) from 3-point range, the worst 3-point percentage of any Pacers opponent all season.
Drummond’s double-double was his NBA-leading 29th of the seaosn, while Caldwell-Pope’s was the first of his career.
The Pacers have now beaten the Pistons twice this season by the exact same score. They also won 94-82 on Nov. 3 in Detroit.
You Can Quote Me On That
“I mentioned late in the third quarter or sometime in the second half, I felt like he was thinking pass. Then he got going from the perimeter, we kept going to him and he kept delivering. It was a great fourth quarter. He’s been struggling. We’re all pulling for him and trying to put him in the right situations. He’s going to be okay.” -Pacers head coach Frank Vogel on George
“He turned up the magic potion there, really carrying us all the way to the end of the game. I think he was phenomenal down the stretch and made plays when we really needed them.” -George Hill on George
“It is always important to grab one before you hit a long road trip like we have. We have some great opponents ahead of us.” -Solomon Hill
“Indiana is a great team that is known for their defense. We shot only 35 percent and anytime you shoot with that percentage, you’ve not going to win many games.” -Drummond
by Wheat Hotchkiss