Paul George’s big night leads Pacers to 120-101 rout of Rockets

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Paul George delivered a message Sunday night.

James Harden might have those eye-popping offensive numbers, but it’s the Indiana Pacers All-Star who remains one of the league’s most complete players.

George scored 33 points, grabbed nine rebounds and hounded the NBA’s second-leading scorer into one of his worst games this season to help the Pacers rout the Houston Rockets 120-101.

“It’s fun playing against the good matchups,” George said. “I get a rush and it’s an excitement for me. It’s what people come out to see – me versus him and us versus them.”

Those who have watched George lately probably should have expected another impressive showing.

He matched a career high by topping the 30-point mark for the fourth straight game. George made 13 of 23 shots, 3 of 7 pointers and all four of his free throw attempts. He dished out three assists, had one steal and one blocked shot, leading Indiana to its third straight win.

And on defense, George was absolutely stifling.

Just two days after Harden put up 51 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists at Philadelphia, the five-time All-Star was just 3 of 17 from the field, 2 of 10 on 3s and had 15 points, five rebounds, eight assists and eight turnovers. He played less than three minutes in the final quarter after picking up his fifth foul with 37 seconds left in the third.

Ryan Anderson led the Rockets with 27 points on the final leg of a five-game road trip.

“We just didn’t have it,” Harden said. “It was a long road trip. It was a tough game. It was just one of those games where we didn’t have it.”

Perhaps fatigue was a factor, but George also had plenty of help.

Myles Turner had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Jeff Teague finished with 17 points and 15 assists, and Glenn Robinson III added 14 points in a game that was never really in doubt.

Indiana led 33-20 after the first quarter, allowed Houston to get as close as six late in the first half and then pushed the lead to 20 in the third quarter. Houston never got closer than 12 in the second half.

“We need PG to be PG, whether that’s scoring 30 or if it’s dishing out 10 assists or whether that’s locking up another team’s best player,” Turner said. “We just need him to be him.”

TIP-INS

Rockets: Have lost four of their last five in Indianapolis. … … Five of Houston’s last seven losses have come by 10 or more points. … The Rockets have attempted 2,015 3s this season. … Eric Gordon finished with 14 points in front of his hometown fans after returning from a tight lower back that had kept him out of the previous two games.

Pacers: Finished January with a 9-4 record while averaging 110.8 points. … Turner had his sixth double-double in 13 games and added four blocks – the 12th time this season he’s had at least four in a game. … The Pacers improved to 18-6 at home this season.

IMPERFECT NIGHT

Houston was incredibly imperfect Sunday. It flirted with a season-low shooting percentage until the final minutes, when the percentage jumped to 41.0. The Rockets were 11 of 39 on 3s and the 19-point margin matched their worst off the season.

TEAGUE TIME

Teague was acquired in a summer trade that included Atlanta and Utah, and the former All-Star has really cranked it up. Since Dec. 7, Teague has 12 double-doubles in 26 games, is averaging a career-best 4.3 rebounds and his assist numbers continue to increase.

“It takes time for all of us to adapt and learn how he can be productive in this system,” coach Nate McMillan said. “I think he’s starting to get a better idea of how he can help us.”

UP NEXT

Rockets: Will go after their seventh straight home win over Sacramento on Tuesday at the start of a four-game home stand.

Pacers: Face former coach Frank Vogel for the third time this season when they visit Orlando on Wednesday. Indiana has won the first two games this season.

Wizards rookie changes name from Sheldon McClellan to Sheldon Mac

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 30: Sheldon McClellan #9 of the Washington Wizards dribbles in front of Sean Kilpatrick #6 of the Brooklyn Nets during the first half at Verizon Center on December 30, 2016 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The Wizards trading for Bojan Bogdanovic pushes Sheldon McClellan even deeper on the bench.

Actually, “McClellan” is now off the team entirely.

Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

Yes, the player formally known as Sheldon McClellan is now officialy Sheldon Mac. The 24-year-old returned to Houston, Texas over the past week and, with the blessing of his mother, changed his name.

Mac expects to have his jersey changed at some point and he will now be referred to in print as ‘Sheldon Mac.’ He said the reason was because ‘McClellan’ was a name he got from his father, whom he has no relationship with.

“I just added a little swag to it.”

If this makes him happier, I’m all for it.

76ers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons out for season

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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76ers CEO Scott O’Neil guaranteed No. 1 pick Ben Simmons would play this season. Just about a week ago, Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said he expected Simmons to play this season.

But with rumor after rumor — the latest report saying his injured right foot hadn’t fully healed, even though he had participated in drills — indicating Simmons could miss the entire year, the 76ers accepted this undesirable fate.

Corey Seidman of CSN Philly:

Ben Simmons is officially out for the season, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Friday.

Simmons had a CT scan on his injured right foot Thursday in New York which showed that the foot is not yet fully healed.

He’ll have another scan in about a month, Colangelo said.

“I have always known that there was a desire to get him back on the court when healthy,” Colangelo said. “We’ve always anticipated there would be an opportunity for him to play, hopefully this season.

“But there was always the outside chance that it didn’t happen because there wasn’t complete and full healing. And we weren’t going to put Ben Simmons in a place where he was (susceptible) to a re-fracture.

“There are genetic things that change the healing patterns of people. So if everybody had done their research and saw that most Jones fractures took 3 to 4 months, great. But it’s not 3 to 4 months in every case, it’s 3 to 4 months in most cases.”

“He’s heartbroken. He wants to play. He wants to be out there. It’s eating him alive, I’m sure.”

Simmons follows Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid as high first-round picks to miss their entire first professional season with the 76ers. If it weren’t for Embiid’s emergence this season, this would be an even more bitter pill to swallow for Philadelphia fans fixated on immediate on-court gains.

But Embiid has provided more than enough reason for optimism, though he’s also hurt now (just not nearly as severely).

Long-term, the 76ers must figure out how Embiid and Simmons mesh and try to develop them together. We know Embiid works well with a stretch four, but what about a dynamic passing power forward like Simmons — or a tall point guard, if that’s what Simmons become? This injury delays answering those questions.

It also raises questions about Simmons — his ability to avoid and recover from injuries. Colangelo’s comments about Simmons’ genetics are particularly eyebrow-raising.

Likewise, there should be questions about the 76ers’ handling of their players’ health. How could Simmons return to on-court work before fully healed?

Philadelphia, at various points, has tried to accelerate its rise. But properly rebuilding takes time and care. At times like this, the 76ers must remember to trust The Process.

Paul Pierce shoots back at Warriors: ‘3-1 lead oops’

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Draymond Green was harsh in trash-talking Paul Pierce last night.

Pierce and the Clippers couldn’t shut up Green on the court, as the Warriors won. But on Twitter?

Pierce responded there:

Pierce has repeatedly taken shots at the Warriors, particularly Kevin Durant. I’m not going to complain about trash-talking, but I can also see why Green would tire of this — and even try crushing Pierce last night.

But there’s apparently no way to silence Pierce.

Ty Lawson cleverly runs down clock in Kings’ win over Nuggets (video)

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The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins for two key reasons:

  • They wanted to change their culture, and they thought jettisoning the combustible Cousins would do that.
  • They wanted to avoid conveying a top-10-protected first-round pick to the Bulls this year, which required getting a little worse in the short term.

But what if they did the former so well, it disrupts the latter?

Sacramento played with enthusiasm and savvy in a 116-100 win over the Nuggets last night. The most clever play came from Ty Lawson.

With the Kings trying to preserve a 109-94 lead with 2:38 left, Lawson took an inbound pass following a Denver basket and let the ball roll/lie on the court for 22 seconds before picking it up.

The game clock didn’t stop because the game wasn’t in the final two minutes. Neither the shot clock nor the eight-second count started because no team possessed the ball.

Denver had an extremely slim chance at erasing a 15-point with 2:38 left, but Lawson reduced those odds considerably. Eventually, Jameer Nelson — who failed for far too long to press Lawson out of this tactic — committed a frustration foul after his own basket.