What is the first thing a player, Paul George in this case, does after delivering the best in-game dunk we’ve seen all season? Declare that he won’t be taking part in the NBA slam dunk contest, leaving the pleasure of seeing him soar only to the eyes of those who watch Indiana Pacers games.
Going up against the Los Angeles Clippers, known as ‘Lob City’, George had something special waiting. He did wait for the game to be practically over with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Pacers steamrolling the visitors en route to a 106-92 win, but it was worth the wait. Stealing the ball, leaving everyone behind him, George soared for a 360-degree windmill dunk before leaving the game after scoring 36 points.
The Clippers have been doing well lately, but there’s a difference between everything they’ve done while playing quite well without Chris Paul to visiting the Pacers, with the best record in the Eastern conference, and with only one loss when playing at home. The Pacers jumped to a 10-point lead in the first quarter by playing excellent defense and quick to react and work off of it to keep the Clippers at a safe distance all game long.
It was their 20th win this season in double digits, greater than or equal to the total wins for 20 of the 30 teams in the NBA. George didn’t just dunk the ball in the impressive win; he shot 12-of-17 from the field and finished with 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. He got plenty of help from the red hot Lance Stephenson, adding 22 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists, while both Danny Granger and C.J. Watson scored in double-digits coming off the bench. Roy Hibbert had a rough time offensively (2-of-11 from the field), but his defense and presence (with 5 blocks) was too difficult for Griffin and Jordan, who combined to shoot 11-of-27 from the field, scoring a combined 34 points.
We didn’t play well at all. I thought their defense really rushed us. We talked about how they tried to channel you into their bigs and we kept falling for it over and over again. We just didn’t execute offensively.
Doc Rivers was asked after the game about his team, but also about their difficult handling Hibbert’s presence and ability to lock down the paint (allowing the Clippers only 32 points in it). Rivers said he wasn’t impressed with Hibbert fouling his players in his attempts to play defense, only he wasn’t getting called for it.
The Pacers were playing the entire second half without David West, becoming the next in line of a long list of players who go after Blake Griffin. West elbowed Griffin in the face, but his absence didn’t really stop the Pacers from playing great defense and dominating down low. It gave more minutes to Luis Scola and Ian Manhimi, which didn’t really change the momentum of the game, staying in the hands of the better team from the first moment the two sides stepped on the floor.