by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
NBA enthusiasts already knew Paul George was ill but last night was his coming out party as he led the Pacers over the Knicks in Indy on national television (for more on PG, check SLAM writer and friend Yaron Wetizman’s piece here). George finished with 24 points, 11 boards, 5 dimes, 6 steals, 1 block and 1 turnover in over 43 minutes of play. The combo forward also locked up J.R. Smith, making him work for every one of his 25 points on 29 shots. The game was a grind-it-out affair with neither team shooting over 40 percent and the Pacers using their exceptional defense to put the brakes on New York’s high-scoring offensive attack. Indy was up double-digits in the second half but the Knicks stormed back with a 24-9 run behind Smith to cut the Pacers lead to four in the fourth. The Pacers didn’t panic, relying on their defense and a few big plays from George and Ian Mahimi (13 points, 6 boards) to put the game away. George came up with two steals and drove the length of the floor each time for layups and Mahimi scored 10 straight points to finish off the Knicks late. Tyson Chandler was the only other Knick to score in double figures with 12 points. He also grabbed 15 boards.
The Mavs ended their four-game skid with a win over the Kings in Sacramento. The Kings led by as many as 17 but the Mavs came storming back in the second half to force overtime. In the extra session, DeMarcus Cousins was ejected after unintentionally hitting Vince Carter in the face with 41.9 seconds left. The play proved to be the turning point in the game. Carter hit both of his free throws and the Mavs were awarded the ball, ending a chance for a late comeback by Sacramento. O.J. Mayo poured in 24 points and grabbed 10 boards, Carter dropped 23 off the bench and Shawn Marion finished with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double to lead the Mavericks to a victory. DMC finished with 29 points and 9 boards, Isaiah Thomas scored 18 and hit a three to force the overtime and Reke Evans finished with 20 points and 7 boards.
The Heat were up early but the Blazers held Miami in check and came back late to earn a great home victory behind the strong play of Nicolas Batum (team-high 28 points, 7 boards, 5 dimes). Miami took a 52-39 lead into halftime and in the third, Norris Cole hit a crowd-silencing three after Portland had made a run to keep the lead at seven. The Blazers wouldn’t go away and with under five minutes to go, they cut the deficit to three after a Wes Matthews (18 points) fadeaway. Portland then held the Heat scoreless on the next two possessions and Batum converted an and-one opportunity on the other end to tie the game up at 82. The Heat were able to regain the lead a after a Chris Bosh (29 points) three put them up 87-84. But Matthews came back to tie it up at 88 with a three ball of his own. Bosh put the Heat back up after a dunk and Matthews followed up with another big shot–this time a three–for Portland to give them a 91-90 lead with 26 seconds to go. After a Heat miss, LaMarcus Aldridge (20 points, 15 boards) was fouled and missed the front end of a two shot opportunity. After hitting the second to make the score 92-90, the Heat had a chance to win or tie the game. With 3 seconds to go, Bosh found a wide-open Mario Chalmers standing on the three-point line but his shot hit iron and the Blazers held on for the win. LeBron finished one assist shy of a triple-double with 15 points, 10 boards and 9 dimes.