One night after Gerald Green did this:
... Paul George did this:
... which has me thinking that maybe all of the NBA's rangy, ridiculously athletic swingmen decided to try to turn every post-steal runout into an opportunity for thunderous windmill dunks. On one hand, I don't particularly appreciate collusion, but on the other, I think we can all get behind an initiative that will ultimately serve us all quite well.
Just before poking the ball away on a lazy attempted Kevin-to-Kevin hookup, George had made a pair of free throws to give his Indiana Pacers a one-point lead over the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves late in the third quarter of their Monday night matchup. That, plus his steal/soaring windmill, sparked an 8-0 run that gave Frank Vogel's team a five-point advantage heading into the final frame, and from there, the Pacers poured it on.
This is what the Pacers do to people. They grind on them, wear on them and eat them alive.
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) November 26, 2013
Indy ripped off a 14-2 burst to begin the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 87-70 and leaving Kevin Love and company in the dust. Minny cut the lead to 12 with just over three minutes remaining, but the Pacers' starting five slammed the door with a 6-0 run before putting the finishing touches on a 98-84 win that kept them perfect at 8-0 in the friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse and continued their dominance in the second halves of games this season, as laid out Monday by Tim Donahue of Pacers blog 8 Points, 9 Seconds.
The Pacers outscored the Timberwolves 22-4 over a 9-1/2-minute stretch spanning the end of the third quarter and the first six minutes of the fourth, kickstarted by George's steal; he scored 11 of the 22 points on 4 for 4 shooting, assisted on a David West layup for two more, and grabbed four rebounds, too. George finished with 26 points on 10 for 16 shooting, a perfect 4 for 4 from 3-point land, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block in the win, continuing his sensational post-max-out play. (The Pacers also got a great night from point guard George Hill, who popped for a season-high 26 points and seven assists on 9 for 13 shooting.)
George's fast-break acrobatics aside, the Pacers' offense continues to be middling (15th among 30 NBA teams in offensive efficiency thus far) and not particularly thrilling, but the throttling defense that propelled Indy to the Eastern Conference finals has actually taken a step forward this year, allowing a microscopic (and league-leading) 90.3 points per 100 possessions. So far, that recipe's been good enough to win nearly every night, as the Pacers now sit at 13-1, tied with the also-victorious San Antonio Spurs for the league's best mark and tops in the Eastern Conference — and after the way last season ended, that top seed matters an awful lot to George and company, according to Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star:
It's all about Game 7 in Miami.
They never want to be on the road again for a Game 7.
"That was the motivation for this year,'' Paul George said after a 26-point, eight-rebound performance. "It came from coach (Frank Vogel). We were special in the playoffs at home and we knew, if we can give ourselves the opportunity to play Game 7 in our house, we can do some special things.'' [...]
This team isn't playing around, not even in late November, long before things really start to count in the long NBA season. They want that No. 1 seed. They want to send Vogel and his staff and a couple of players to the NBA All-Star Game. They want to be the talk of the NBA.
Continuing to beat down whoever they put in front of you won't hurt, Indiana. And having your All-Star power forward get creative in the air will help some, too.
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