Pacers remain perfect at 6-0
INDIANAPOLIS -- Once Paul George stopped trying so hard, points came in bunches.
The Indiana Pacers forward, who has emerged as one of the league's top scorers, scored just five points in the first half against the Toronto Raptors.
Then he found his rhythm. He scored 17 of his 23 points in the third quarter and the Pacers defeated the Raptors 91-84 on Friday night to remain the NBA's only unbeaten team.
George made just 2 of 10 shots from the field in the first half but 5 of 9 in the third quarter.
"I think I was just pressing," he said of his shaky first half. "I've just got to continue to let the game come to me and let the game flow. I feel like a lot of times I'm pressing, and that's taking me out of my comfort zone."
Once he found that zone, Indiana took control. The Pacers (6-0) matched their best start in franchise history. Every other team in the Eastern Conference has at least two losses.
"It feels good," George said. "We're just taking one game at a time. That's the best thing we can do. It's teamwork -- relying on one another, the chemistry we have. It's our whole DNA and makeup, everybody from the coaching staff on down to every guy on the roster. We're all on the same page and we have all bought into what we want to get accomplished."
Pacers center Roy Hibbert had 20 points and seven rebounds and guard George Hill, who missed the previous three games with soreness in his left hip, started and finished with 14 points.
Forward Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 30 points. He scored 22 in the first half, mostly on difficult shots against George, one of the league's top perimeter defenders.
"Thank God he just stopped making those contested shots," George said. "It was frustrating because he was hitting some tough ones, but he's a guy that shoots jump shots, and as I know in this league, jump shots don't always last. So I was just trying to pressure up and contest all his shots."
Hibbert, the league's top shot blocker, got into the act offensively by making 9 of 14 shots from the field.
"It just came together tonight," he said. "I don't expect to have 20-point nights all the time. I just want to be solid on defense and give the team as much as I can on offense. I try to be the backbone of the defense, and luckily, some of my shots went in tonight."
Forward Amir Johnson had 12 points and 10 rebounds and guard Kyle Lowry added 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Raptors (2-4), who lost their third straight. Toronto scored 32 points in the first quarter and 52 the rest of the game. The Raptors made just 19 of 58 shots from the field after the first quarter.
"We have to be able to put together a full game," Gay said. "There are spurts where we play as good as any team in the league. But we let up just a little bit, and they were able to come right back and take advantage of that."
Toronto's largest lead was 12 points in the second quarter. The Pacers whittled away at their deficit, and Hibbert's jumper from near the free-throw line trimmed the Raptors' lead to 46-44 at halftime.
Indiana guard Lance Stephenson, who had been off to a strong start this season, left the game in the first half with a sore left knee but returned to start the second half.
Indiana opened the second half on a 10-0 run. A 3-pointer by George caused Toronto to call a timeout just three minutes into the third quarter with Indiana leading 54-46. Gay made two free throws with 8:43 left in the third quarter for Toronto's first points.
George made a 3-pointer over forward Landry Fields as time expired in the third quarter to push Indiana's lead to 72-59. He helped Indiana outscore the Raptors 28-13 in the quarter.
Gay, who was unstoppable in the first half, was held to two points on 0-for-4 shooting from the field in the third quarter. Toronto made just 5 of 18 in the quarter.
The Pacers extended their lead to 78-62 on a jumper by forward Luis Scola early in the fourth quarter, and they led by at least six points the rest of the way.
The Pacers say they won't let up. They travel to Brooklyn on Saturday.
"We have a young team and everybody's locked in," Hibbert said. "We're laser focused."
NOTES: Raptors F Tyler Hansbrough and G D.J. Augustin played for the Pacers last season. Hansbrough was booed when he entered the game late in the first quarter. ... George entered the game ranked fourth in the NBA at 25.8 points per game. ... Hibbert blocked at least five shots in four of his first five games. ... Indiana was leading the NBA in scoring defense (84.4) and second in point differential (11.0). ... The Pacers and Raptors split their series 2-2 last season. ... The Raptors led 32-22 at the end of the first quarter. The 32 points were the most the Pacers had surrendered in a quarter this season. ... The Raptors shot 57 percent from the field in the first quarter and the Pacers shot 50 percent.