Monday, December 2, 2013 at 10:00 PM ET at the Moda Center
Game Rewind: Pacers 102, Trail Blazers 106
Scott Agness | December 2, 2013
Paul George had a career night and nearly willed the Pacers to victory single-handedly by scoring the team's final 15 points, but it wasn’t enough. Back at it for the second day in a row on this five-game road trip, the Pacers squared off against the Western Conference-leading Portland Trail Blazers in one of the more difficult environments in the league.
Like George, Blazers guard Damian Lillard was also special in the fourth quarter, giving his team their first lead and making sure they held on to it. In an excellent game in front of a playoff-like atmosphere, the Pacers’ seven-game win streak came to an end Monday night with a 106-102 loss. Indiana drops to 16-2 on the season, while Portland improves to 15-3.
George stole the show early, and then again in the fourth. Playing like an All-Star and MVP candidate, the 23-year-old scored 14 points in the opening frame. The Pacers did a great job of limiting the Blazers to one shot and defending the 3-point line. They used a 9-0 burst to go ahead by nine points, but it was trimmed to just three by quarter’s end.
With David West and Luis Scola, the Pacers boast one of the best power forward tandem in the league. In Sunday’s game, West went off for 14 points in a quarter; tonight, Scola scored eight straight during one stretch of the second. The Pacers shot 46 percent in the first half and had a one-point edge at halftime.
Each time the Pacers went ahead seven or eight, the Trail Blazers seem to have an answer. Had a shot or two fallen, the Pacers may have been able to pull away. With both teams connecting on half of their shots, the game was even at 72 at the conclusion of the third – setting up for an entertaining final 12 minutes.
Lillard and the Blazers surged ahead to start the fourth, outscoring the Pacers, who had never trailed, 9-2 in the first four minutes. Down by seven points with three minutes to play, Paul George began what he had hoped was a special comeback. He made five shots from beyond the arc, wowing folks around the league, but the Blazers were excellent at the foul line and held on for the four-point win, their 15th of the season.
This game was a treat for basketball fans and as Roy Hibbert put it, a potential NBA Finals matchup. The Pacers don't have too much time to linger on this loss with the Utah Jazz up next on Wednesday.
Inside the Numbers
Paul George finished with a career-high 43 points on 16-of-30 shooting, including 7-of-15 from deep. It was his fourth time this season with 30-plus.
Roy Hibbert posted his sixth double-double of the season, with 16 points and 14 rebounds. David West, who surpassed the 11,000 points for his career tonight, had 12. Luis Scola and C.J. Watson each added 10.
Indiana’s starting backcourt of George Hill and Lance Stephenson combined for eight points on 2-of-11 shooting. Hill had 11 assists, which tied his career high.
LaMarcus Aldridge was superb for the Trail Blazers, scoring 28 points (his 14th 20-point game this season) and grabbing 10 rebounds. So too was Damian Lillard, who tallied 14 of his 26 in the fourth quarter. Wesley Matthews chipped in 15.
Portland, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, was held to 38.5 percent and to just five treys from deep, half its average.
For just the second time this season, the Pacers gave up more than 100 points. Both were losses.
The Pacers assisted on 25 of their 39 field goals (64 percent).
“The Blazers played a great basketball game, particularly [LaMarcus] Aldridge and [Damian] Lillard just knocking down really big shots. We took away their two biggest strengths, their 3-point shot, they only made five 3s, and the offensive glass, only six offensive rebounds. We didn't do a good enough job keeping them off the free throw line, particularly in the fourth quarter. Have to credit those two guys for making big shots and obviously Paul George had a beast of a game.” – Frank Vogel
“[Lance Stephenson] is playing too unselfishly. There were three or four times he was at the rim and looking to pass. He just had a poor shooting night. If our problems are that we're too unselfish or that guys can't make shots like that on the road, we'll be alright.” – Vogel on Lance Stephenson
“I was just trying to keep us in there. My number was called upon. In the fourth quarter I was just trying to be there for my teammates. They did a great job getting me open to get some good looks and I was fortunate to knock some shots down.” – Paul George
“He got hot. That’s what that level of players do. He’s an MVP caliber player. His team is doing great. He was trying to win the game for his team. I wouldn’t expect anything less from him.” – Blazers guard Damian Lillard on Paul George
“We didn't close out quarters well, myself included. … We checked in at, I think, nine minutes into the fourth, Paul [George] was just like hey big dog, let's me and you let's do this. So, I was trying to get some stops, get some rebounds. Whenever I got an offensive rebound, I always looked for him on the perimeter and he hit some threes. So, we got that connection and we just came up short.” – Roy Hibbert
Stat of the Game
The Trail Blazers outscored the Pacers by 14 points at the foul line. Even more impressive, they were 15-of-16 in the fourth quarter.
- The Pacers have lost five in a row in Portland, their last win coming on Nov. 28, 2007.
- Indiana falls to 7-2 away from home, 3-1 vs. Western Conference opponents. The loss also ends a streak of six consecutive road wins vs. West teams.
- The Blazers are 8-0 this season against Eastern Conference teams.
- Both coaches – Frank Vogel and Terry Stotts – were named Coach of the Month on Monday for their respective conferences after the first month of the season.
Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Utah – 9 p.m. EST