Everyone knew the Indiana Pacers were going to be dominant this season, looking slightly stronger than last year. The reality of it? Maybe the best team in the NBA right now, picking up a fourth straight win and improving to 13-1 this season after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 98-84, led by 26 points from Paul George and George Hill.
The Timberwolves? They save their best for their home games, but suffer from too many ups and downs on their road games. Ricky Rubio scored only 7 points, while Kevin Love and Corey Brewer struggled against the best defense in the NBA, combining for 11 turnovers on a horrid shooting night for the visitors: Minnesota were 32.6% from the field and only 15.8% from beyond the arc, turning the ball over 19 times.
George Hill was the player who take care of business early on, scoring 12 points in the first quarter while the Pacers took a 20-6 lead in the first quarter, never looking back. Paul George was more involved in the second half, especially when the Pacers went on the 17-4 run to finally clinch the game early in the fourth quarter, creating some separation from the Timberwolves.
There wasn’t too much the Pacers got from the bench – 9 points from Luis Scola, 7 points from Ian Mahimi, but it was enough when George and Hill combined to shoot 19-of-32 from the field, to go with some excellent defense, translating into 9 steals.
The Timberwolves were reduced to only three meaningful players: Kevin Love with 20 points, Nikola Pekovic with 18 and Kevin Martin with the same. The rest of the team had only 28 points, as the Timberwolves’ rotation was cut to only eight players, with J.J. Barea managing to shoot 11 times in only 19 minutes on the floor.
Roy Hibbert didn’t really make an offensive splash against a tough center to play against, but it didn’t really matter. The Pacers don’t rely on one player providing the points, even though it’s usually George, averaging 24.3 points per game so far this season. Scoring 97.2 points a night, their entire starting five is averaging in double figures, and no one is shooting worse than 43.5% from the field.
It may get in the way of the theory that a championship team, something the Pacers are hoping to be by the time this season ends, needs a distinct go-to-guy and superstar, but just because George doesn’t force himself on the game and doesn’t try to do too much on his own, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a superstar, who simply doesn’t have the on-court mannerisms.
George Hill – We just don’t rely on one person to do all the work. We have multiple people who can make plays, who can play defense and things like that. We just continue to work together. We don’t know who’s night it’s going to be. All we know is we have one common goal and that’s to win the game.