Trail Blazers 106, Pacers 102

Kerry Eggers, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PORTLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers overcame a sensational performance by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, breaking open a tight game with a fourth-quarter run, then holding on for a 106-102 victory Monday night at the Moda Center.
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge and point guard Damian Lillard combined for 54 points for Portland (15-3), which never led until the fourth quarter. Aldridge collected 28 points and 10 rebounds and Lillard scored 26 points for the Trail Blazers.
George bombed in a career-high 43 points for Indiana (16-2), including five 3-pointers in the final three minutes. Center Roy Hibbert added 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Pacers, who saw the end to a seven-game win streak.
Indiana led the entire way through a tightly contested first half, taking a 46-45 advantage into intermission.
Portland started cold -- 2-for-11 from the field -- and George scored 14 of his team's first 20 points as Indiana jumped in front 20-11. The Pacers took a 23-20 lead into the second quarter. George scored only two more points to go into the first half with 16, but forward Luis Scola came on to contribute 10 off the bench.
Indiana extended its one-point halftime lead to 68-60 late in the third quarter, but the Blazers rallied to tie the count at 72-72 going into the final period.
Portland opened the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run, Lillard's 3-pointer giving the Blazers their first lead at 75-72. Guard Wesley Matthews' trey increased the margin to 86-78 with 6:30 to play. Indiana cut it to 86-82, and Hibbert scored back-to-back baskets to draw the Pacers to within 90-87 with 3:45 remaining.
George went to work, sinking five straight 3-pointers to keep the Pacers alive. It wasn't over until George -- who finished 7-for-15 on 3-point attempts -- finally missed one from beyond the line that would have brought the visitors to within one in the closing seconds.
NOTES: Earlier in the day, Portland's Terry Stotts and Indiana's Frank Vogel were named the NBA's coaches of the month -- Stotts representing the Western Conference, Vogel the East. Asked how he felt about the two coaches squaring off on the day they were honored, Vogel quipped, "I like it. I always feel like you're getting jinxed if you get that award. We can't both be jinxed -- I have a 50 percent chance (to win)." ... Indiana entered the game with an NBA-best 16-1 record, Portland with a 14-3 mark. It was the first time teams with such high winning percentages after 15 games met since 1993. ... Indiana's Paul George came in ranked fourth in the NBA in scoring at 23.8 points per game. "I heard (Clippers coach) Doc Rivers say he got Most Improved Player last year and he could get it again this year, because he's made another jump," Stotts said. "George is playing at an All-Star, All-NBA level."

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