After the Pacers took Game 2 from the Heat by defending well enough to get LeBron James to turn the ball over on consecutive possessions with the game on the line, Gorge Hill was asked if there was any player in the world more dangerous with the ball in that situation.
“Yeah, it’s only like one person that’s more scarier than that and that’s God,” Hill said. “I’m sure if we’re looking at him in the face, we would be very nervous. I’m sure he can make all the plays that we want people to make.”
James did turn in a somewhat otherworldly performance, shooting 70 percent from the field on the way to scoring 36 points, while pulling down eight rebounds and finishing with three assists and three steals. But he wasn’t buying into the hype, especially after costing his team a chance to win the game with miscues on those final couple of possessions.
“I’m nowhere near close,” James said. “I made two mistakes tonight. That hurt our team. And that hurt more than anything. Let my teammates down. They expect me to make plays down the stretch, and I had the ball with the opportunity to make a couple of plays and I came up short. That burns.
“But the best thing about it is this isn’t college. It’s not one loss and you’re done. I have another opportunity to get better in Game 3, and if I’m put in that position again, to be able to learn from it.”
The Pacers will fully expect James to be better than ever in Game 3, and to come out to try and do everything he can to make up for how this one ended. Despite his comments, Hill may not be in full idol-worship mode when playing against James. But he and his team are certainly very cautious in their approach in dealing with the one of the game’s best.
“LeBron is a great player,” Hill said. “He’s the MVP for a reason. “He’s one of the best that ever played this game. He’s a big focal point. We know that he’s up there probing the floor and looking at everything. We can’t just focus on him. We have to focus on the people around him, because he’s a great play‑maker. He has our full attention.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.
General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.
McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.
In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.
George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.
He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.
“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.
“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”
George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.
He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.
Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.
The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.