Knicks vs. Pacers
Paul George and George Hill scored 19 points apiece to lead Indiana over New York.
Paul George and George Hill scored 19 points apiece to lead Indiana over New York.
April 12, 2016 - The Indiana Pacers won their final regular season home game Tuesday night, defeating the New York Knicks 102-90. Pacers.com's Lauryn Gray breaks down the game.
April 12, 2016 - Pacers players Paul George, Ian Mahinmi, Ty Lawson, and George Hill reflect on their final home game of the regular season, a 102-90 win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
April 12, 2016 - George Hill drops it off to Monta Ellis on the break who finishes with and the up-and-under past defenders.
April 12, 2016: Pacers head coach Frank Vogel shares his thoughts on Indiana's 102-90 victory over the New York Knicks.
April 12, 2016 - Solomon Hill put a nice move on the low block, getting the step-back jumper.
April 12, 2016 - Indianapolis-based author John Green takes in Pacers' final regular season home game. Green, the author of "The Fault in Our Stars" and "Paper Towns", was born in Indiana, and tells Pacers.com's Lauryn Gray that he's excited to see what the team can do in this year's postseason.
April 12, 2016 - Knicks coach, Kurt Rambis, and players Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez give their outlook heading into the offseason after losing their last game of the season in Indiana Tuesday night.
April 12, 2016 - Paul George shakes loose from the New York defense and receives the pass in prime scoring position under the basket.
Ian Mahinmi follows the George Hill miss with the tip-in in traffic, plus the foul.
Paul George makes the quick lob up to Ian Mahinmi who catches and finishes at the rim.
George Hill takes it all the way and hits the runner plus the foul in transition.
George Hill scoops it to Monta Ellis who converts with the reverse in traffic, high off the glass.
Hill Finds and Fills Another Role
George Hill is a chameleon, able to adapt to nearly any role or environment. Point guard, shooting guard, combo guard, starter or reserve, he'll go along with it and probably do it well.
He found yet another role in the Pacers' 102-90 victory over New York on Tuesday, one in which he could flourish: running mate with the second unit.
Hill, the Pacers player most likely to be criticized by the fanbase, played a team-high 37 minutes and 19 seconds against the Knicks and finished with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. His defense was at least as good. There wasn't much for anyone to complain about after this one, and there were things to be intrigued by as well.
Although he scored 15 of his points when paired with Monta Ellis, 12 in the first seven minutes of the third quarter when the Pacers overcame New York's three-point halftime lead, he played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter with the reserves. Ian Mahinmi was the only other starter to play in the final period, and that was just for 2 minutes, 43 seconds. Hill finished the game with Ty Lawson, Rodney Stuckey, Solomon Hill and Myles Turner, and while he only scored two points with that group, he offered a glimpse of what might be coming when the Pacers face Toronto in the playoffs.
The Pacers don't have two All-Star guards as the Raptors do, but they have a better bench. If George Hill is part of it, it's all that much deeper. Coach Frank Vogel only used nine players against the Knicks, which could be as deep as he'll go in the postseason, when most teams shrink their rotation.
If you're keeping score at home, it means Hill in the last few seasons has been a starting point guard who mostly stood in the corner after initiating an offense that ran through Paul George and Lance Stephenson (two and three seasons ago), a point guard who controlled the ball and had to score (last season), a hybrid guard who shared ballhandling duties with Ellis (early this season), a shooting guard with Ellis (late this season) and now a shooting guard with Lawson, too.
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All in all, his role has fluctuated between running the offense and standing around waiting for a possible kick-out pass for a 3-pointer. Now he and Vogel are trying to find a happy medium.
"I've been talking to Coach about finding ways to get more involved in the offense instead of standing there a lot in the corner," Hill said. "He gave me opportunities to come out of that corner and try to make plays and just try to be aggressive."
Following an embarrassing 20-point loss to Orlando on March 31, Vogel promised changes. One of them was to put the ball in Ellis' hands more often and make Hill more of a traditional shooting guard. It brought more structure to the offense and took advantage of the fact Hill is the team's best 3-point shooter – a .408 percentage following Tuesday's game, in which he hit 3-of-5 attempts. This, from the guy who was the Pacers' primary playmaker last season, with an assist-to-turnover ratio better than 3-to-1.
"We just want him to be aggressive and play his game," Vogel said. "We don't want him to force. A lot of times if he's not putting up big numbers it's because I'm calling plays for Monta or Paul George or somebody else. He's one of the best guys I've ever coached for doing what the team needs. He does whatever's asked of him."
"Just a matter of being a professional," Hill said. "Sometimes you have roles and sometimes you can't control things. You have to do the best you can with what you can control. If they need you to do this or do that you've got to suck it up and do that for the betterment of the team. I'm not big on being upset about certain situations."
Hill's challenge is not to let his versatility morph into passivity. It's one thing to be adaptable, another to be too self-sacrificing. His teammates and Vogel remind him of that now and then.
"We all have to be annoying to him," George said. "We have to be a bug in his ear, constantly chipping way at him. He has so much talent not being used. It's on us to get on him to come out and play his game.
"George is calm and collected. Sometimes he feels there's enough guys around him who can do the job. So it's on us to nudge him and tell him he can do the same thing we're doing."
Lawson gives the most meaningful nudge, by his style of play. The Houston Rockets castoff further ingrained himself with the Pacers on Tuesday, finishing with nine points and eight assists off the bench. That followed a seven-point, nine-assist game against Brooklyn on Sunday. He now has 51 assists and 10 turnovers in his 12 games with the Pacers, and has brought new life to the bench.
"It's fun," Hill said of playing with Lawson. "You space the floor a little bit ... he's done a great job his whole career of getting in gaps and looking for weakside and drawing a lot of attention. It's great to play with him; you're going to get a lot of open looks."
That's something Rodney Stuckey, who scored 10 points on Tuesday, can appreciate as well.
"He makes the ball movement a lot better," Stuckey said of Lawson. "He pushes the ball and the tempo of the game is faster. That's what Frank wants to emphasize with the second unit. Push the ball up the court, lot of random basketball, lot of (trailers) ... that's what Ty brings to the table."
Lawson is loving life again. Houston traded for him last summer and then tried to use him as an off-guard with James Harden. Lawson doesn't have George Hill-like versatility, however. He's a point guard, and nothing more or less. He's got the ball back in his hands now, but can take advantage of playing with Hill and Stuckey, who will return the favor now and then and find him for open shots. He hit a 3-pointer late in Tuesday's game off an assist from Stuckey, who had four of them without a turnover.
"We all can handle the ball, we all can get in the paint and find the open man and play the game the right way," Lawson said. "I've never gotten wide open shots like that standing in the corner. It felt good."
Hill knows the feeling.
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