First, Paul George decided to remind us all that he'd be participating in the Slam Dunk Contest this coming Saturday during All-Star Weekend by unfurling and enveloping Glen Davis with a holistic hammering during the first quarter of the Indiana Pacers' Sunday visit to Florida to take on the Orlando Magic:
Next, the Eastern Conference All-Star starter decided he didn't want to be friends after his attempt at a left-elbow jumper that would given the Pacers a one-point lead in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter came up short, allowing the Magic to run out the clock and come away with a surprising and impressive 93-92 home win over East-leading Indiana:
On one hand, Paul, it's understandable to be bummed after getting outscored 39-21 over the final 15 minutes and 45 seconds of the game by the team with the third-worst record in the NBA, especially after watching Magic rookie Victor Oladipo torch your team's vaunted defense for 13 fourth-quarter points to bring Orlando back, and especially if you thought you'd been fouled on your last-ditch 18-footer.
"I thought I got hit," George said after the game, according to Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post. "I didn't think I got hit up top, but I felt like Big Baby finished through me on the shot. It is what it is."
On the other, though, it's always nicer to shake a baby's hand than it is to shun him, even if he's a baby in name only.
George finished with a game-high 27 points on 10 for 19 shooting, including a 5-for-8 mark from downtown, to go with seven rebounds and three steals in 35-plus minutes, but came away ruing his Pacers not taking the opportunity to, as he told the Indianapolis Star's Candace Buckner after the game, "put our foot down all the way, finish this game and close this game out." I'm guessing that's especially true considering how badly Orlando botched its final-possession inbounds — a near-five-second violation that prompted center Nikola Vucevic to try to throw the ball off the leg of Pacers power forward David West, with the ball instead going through West's wickets, bouncing high off the hardwood and winding up in the hands of George on what The Starters' Trey Kerby rightly called "one of the worst out of bounds plays in history."
Oladipo led the way with 23 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 33 minutes off the bench, drawing post-game praise from both George ("He is special") and Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn ("It starts with his enthusiasm for basketball, and it's really infectious to his teammates. They want to play for him, they want to play with him and I'm sure glad he's in a Magic uniform"). Vucevic added 19 points and 13 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass, while the unkindly treated Davis chipped in nine points and five boards for the Magic, who capped a wonderful weekend that saw thrilling late-stage wins over the two best teams in basketball — the Pacers on Sunday and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
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