George scores 31 as Pacers remain undefeated

Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Paul George is intent on becoming one of the NBA's best all-around players. His team is fixated on winning every game.
George, Indiana's star forward, had another big night Tuesday as the Pacers remained the NBA's lone undefeated team. He poured in 31 points and added 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals to lead Indiana to a 99-91 victory over the Detroit Pistons at The Palace.
George, who began the night tied for fourth place in the NBA with an average of 25.7 points per game, made 12 of 18 field-goal tries and scored 19 points in the second half, when the Pacers (4-0) outscored the Pistons 61-50.
"This is a special year for us, and every possession, I'm going to give it my all," he said. "I'll do whatever needs to be done for this team to continue to go on the path and the way we want to go."
George spearheaded an offense that shot 52.1 percent and also lifted the Pacers to a 45-42 rebounding advantage against a team that relies on its interior strength.
"Paul George did everything I asked him to do and everything you can possibly ask a player to do tonight," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "He played the point and guarded point guards. He guarded an elite small forward in Josh Smith, who's really a power forward. He carried the scoring load, distributed the ball, rebounded the ball -- he did it all."
Guard C.J. Watson contributed 15 points, forward David West chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds, and center Roy Hibbert had eight points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks for Indiana, which is off to its first 4-0 start since 2004-05. Watson started in place of point guard George Hill, who missed his second consecutive game due to a sore left hip.
The Pacers overcame a nine-point second quarter with their top-rated defense, holding the Pistons (2-2) to 37.9 percent shooting overall and 35.6 in the second half.
"We all take pride in our defense," Hibbert said. "We're long, and some of us are athletic, so that can really spark us to get out on the break. This is fun. We like playing defense, and that leads us to good offensive possessions."
Pistons coach Mo Cheeks said his team needs to be more reliant on its defense against top-level opponents.
"There are nights when (shots) go in, there are nights when they don't go in," he said. "That's why you try to build yourself on the defensive end, so you can stay pretty consistent."
Point guard Brandon Jennings, making his first start for the Pistons, had a team-high 17 points and six assists. Jennings came off the bench in his Detroit debut against the Boston Celtics on Sunday after missing the season's first two games with a partially fractured jaw.
Smith had 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks for Detroit, and forward Greg Monroe contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds.
"It's a good lesson learned for us, to be able to see where we need to get to," Smith said. "(Indiana) is a team that's been together for quite some time, and as long as we just keep striving and keep playing together and find what we like to do on the court, then we'll be OK."
Indiana seized command with a 15-2 spurt early in the second half, taking a 55-46 advantage. Guard Lance Stephenson made a 3-pointer and a 20-footer during the latter stages of the outburst, and George finished it off with an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Hibbert. George also dropped in a pull-up jumper during the final minute of the quarter as the Pacers carried a 74-63 lead into the fourth.
"Our starters' disposition, attitude and energy took the game back over, took control of it," Vogel said. "That changed the momentum of the game, and we were able to ride it out."
Detroit pulled within four early in the fourth, but Indiana responded with an 18-3 run for a 94-75 lead. Pacers reserve forward Luis Scola made two jumpers, while George fired in a 3-pointer and added two free throws during that span.
NOTES: Pistons second-year C Andre Drummond recorded his 100th career block against during the first quarter, swatting a shot by Indiana F David West. ... The Pacers swept the Pistons in their four-game series last season by an average margin of 20 points. ... Detroit F Charlie Villanueva was inactive because of a sore left shoulder. ... Indiana coach Frank Vogel said G George Hill (sore left hip) could return to action as early as Wednesday when his team hosts the Chicago Bulls. "He's close," Vogel said. "We thought he'd be available (Tuesday). He was still a little bit limited when he was moving in the shootaround."

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