Lavoy Allen

Paul George on Lance Stephenson: ‘He’s got to learn to control himself’

3 Comments

Another Pacers loss to the Cavaliers, another example of Paul George publicly calling attention to his teammates’ flaws.

First, George’s dismay was directed at C.J. Miles for taking the final shot – rather than passing to George – in the Game 1 defeat. Now, Lance Stephenson and Indiana’s bigs come under George’s microscope after Game 2.

Stephenson guarded Kevin Love in the third quarter, a matchup Stephenson couldn’t handle. He thrice fouled Love, reacting once by pushing Love after the whistle and another time by slamming the ball:

That didn’t sit well with George:

George:

He’s got to learn to control himself. He’s got to learn to just be in the moment. Lance is, in our locker room, is looked upon as a leader, one of our leaders. So, his body language has to improve, just for the team. We all know that Lance is an emotional guy. And a lot of it is his heart and his competitiveness that that emotion comes out on. But he’s got to channel that and put it towards making effort plays on the court and doing whatever he needs for us to succeed.

George’s point isn’t altogether incorrect, and I have no problem with players openly discussing problems.

But George ought to look in the mirror first.

Watch him after Miles’ miss to end Game 1:

I’m also unconvinced Stephenson is such a leader in the locker room. Lavoy Allen is the only other Pacer who was in Indiana during Stephenson’s previous stint there. I bet most of Stephenson’s teammates see him as a role-playing journeyman, not someone who played a central role in the franchise’s best teams in a decade.

George is unquestionably the team’s leader. When he looks upset about Miles shooting, that matters – especially when George says exactly that, even if he walks it back.

Yet, George’s teammates have mostly answered the call when Cleveland double-teams him. That still hasn’t spared them from further scrutiny.

George:

I just thought in that third quarter, they double-teamed. They trapped. And we should have did a better job of, once we got it out in the pick-and-rolls, our bigs got to make plays at that point. And we didn’t.

I’m looking for them. I’m looking for them, to try to pass out of those traps and take advantage of the three-on-twos or the four-on-threes. That’s really what it comes down to. On all of those pick-and-rolls, I’m looking for them, because that’s how you play the game. You’ve got to burn them up if they send two to the ball, getting that ball out of that trap. And we’ve got to rely on them to make plays. It’s the only way that it’s going to free me up on these pick-and-rolls, because they’re not going to want to get burned by that.

It’s very obvious that they want the ball out of my hands, and they’re going to force other guys to beat them.

Indiana’s bigs didn’t always handle those possessions perfectly, especially in the third quarter. They can do better.

But George’s complaints are misplaced.

His floormates are shooting 50%, including 36% on 3-pointers – creating an effective field-goal percentage (54%) that would have ranked fourth in the league among teams in the regular season. They’re taking fine advantage of all the attention George draws.

The Pacers’ problem is defensive. They just can’t stop Cleveland (admittedly, no easy task).

In the end, how George feels matters far more than whether he’s right. He’s on track to become a restricted free agent in 2018, and he has dropped several hints about his dissatisfaction in Indiana. Falling behind 2-0 to the Cavs surely isn’t helping. I don’t know whether George is setting the stage for his eventual exit, but it sure feels like it.

Myles Turner’s goal next season: Average 15-20 points per game

7 Comments

Myles Turner looked like the big the Pacers needed in his rookie campaign — he could space the floor on offense, he could protect the paint on defense. He was a 19-year-old rookie learning hard lessons on the fly, but he fit better along the front line in Indiana than C.J. Miles or Lavoy Allen. Pacers front office people thought rookie Turner reminded them of rookie LaMarcus Aldridge.

That’s a lot of development still to do, but Turner doesn’t lack for confidence in getting it done. He averaged 10.3 points per game last season, and this is what he told Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.

“Individually, I feel like I can put up big numbers for this team and help in any way necessary. I’d like to see myself put up 15 to 20 points per game. That may seem like a long shot, but I feel like I’m very capable.”

Those numbers aren’t wildly unreasonable, especially if he shoots better from three (21.4 percent last season). The question is will he get the touches on a roster that added Jeff Teague (who shoots more than George Hill) and Thaddeus Young (Paul George and Monta Ellis are going to get theirs, too). Turner has to get his shots in the flow of the offense, not overdo it pushing for numbers.

Also, they need him to be a better defender — he blocked shots at a great rate but was often out of position and just looked like a guy who lacked experience on that end. In addition, his size and frame made it difficult for him against more traditional bigs defensively (think DeMarcus Cousins, although he gives everyone trouble).

The Pacers are hoping Turner’s time on the USA Select Team this summer in Las Vegas helps speed along his development.

“I feel like I’ve made huge strides because that pace is so much faster than what people think. I mean, you see them beating up on these foreign teams and now I can definitely see why teams struggle against them. You have to make plays a lot faster and you have to make reads a lot faster, so I feel like that was really good for me.”

Turner is going to have a lot more on his shoulders this season, but he looked like a rookie who could grow into that role.

With James on bench, Pacers roll past Cavaliers 123-109

Getty Images
1 Comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Paul George scored 29 points and C.J. Miles added 21, helping the Indiana Pacers blow out the Cleveland Cavaliers – with LeBron James getting the night off – 123-109 on Wednesday night.

Indiana ended a four-game losing streak in the series and still leads eighth-place Detroit by a half-game. Ninth-place Chicago, still vying for one of the final two playoff spots in the East, is now three games behind the Pacers.

The Cavaliers played without the four-time MVP James, who rested after playing Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Without James, Kyrie Irving had 26 points and six assists. Kevin Love scored 23.

Indiana took control with a 14-0 second-quarter spurt that made it 55-41. Cleveland got within nine at halftime and closed to 83-74 in the third quarter.

The Pacers then answered with a 13-4 spurt to make it an 18-point game and the Cavs couldn’t get closer than 12.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue explained before the game that James was not injured. Instead, he’s on a minutes limitation as the regular season winds down and even though Cleveland still has not clinched the top seed in the East.

For Indiana, James’ absence and a rejuvenated offense were exactly what it needed to continue a late-season playoff push.

The Pacers have won three straight. Cleveland’s four-game winning streak came to an end.

LIFE WITHOUT LEBRON

The Cavs always struggle when James sits out and it was never more evident than Wednesday. Cleveland went 8 of 29 on 3-pointers, after going 18 of 36 on Tuesday. Indiana also had season-high point totals in the first quarter (36) and at halftime (70) and came up three points short of their single-game season high. Since James returned to Cleveland, the Cavs are 4-14 when he doesn’t play.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: The only other players to reach double figures were J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson with 10 each. … Smith had been averaging 20.0 points in his previous three games and was 7 of 9 on 3s in the first half at Milwaukee. … Cleveland’s 16-game streak with 10 or more 3s ended. Golden State set the NBA record (16) earlier this season. … Love finished with five rebounds.

Pacers: Have won every game since Lavoy Allen replaced rookie Myles Turner in the starting lineup. … Indiana shot 56.3 percent from the field Wednesday after making just 43.7 percent of their shots in the first three games against the Cavs this season. Indiana also was 16 of 31 from beyond the arc. … Solomon Hill had a season high 15 points and matched his career high with three 3s. … Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano attended the game.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: Visit Chicago on Saturday.

Pacers: Travel to Toronto on Friday.

Paul Millsap, Al Horford pace Hawks past Pacers 102-96

Associated Press
Leave a comment

ATLANTA (AP) — Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer wasn’t terribly concerned that his team gave up 19 offensive rebounds.

Not when Atlanta held on for a third straight win.

“Obviously we’d like to be better, but I think just because you give up a rebound doesn’t mean automatically they’re going to score two points,” he said. “Overall, our defense is a lot of times what’s giving us a chance.”

Paul Millsap scored 24 points, Al Horford added 21 points and the Hawks beat the Indiana Pacers 102-96 on Friday night.

Paul George finished with 31 points for Indiana, which has lost 17 of its last 19 regular-season matchups in Atlanta. Lavoy Allen added 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

The Pacers missed their first six shots of the fourth quarter before C.J. Miles‘ runner cut the lead to 78-74 with 8 minutes remaining.

George’s 3 with 4:49 left gave Indiana its last lead at 86-84. He hit another 3 with 1:02 left, falling back and heaving the ball over his right shoulder for a 35-footer that brought the Pacers within two.

But Jeff Teague‘s jumper and Kent Bazemore‘s two free throws pushed the lead to six with 22 seconds left. Teague had 16 points. Bazemore had 15 points and tied for a game-high eight assists.

Neither team led by more than six until the closing seconds. The lead changed hands 12 times.

It was a particularly frustrating night for Indiana, which out-rebounded the Hawks 53-32 and outscored them on second-chance points.

“Our bigs did a great job of rebounding,” George said. “It’s hard to make plays when they’re getting whacked all day at the rebounding, but it’s another game that we should have had – one that we didn’t do so late in the game and put it away.”

Horford had two consecutive dunks to push Atlanta back in front 73-72 in the last minute of the third. Dennis Schroder hit a 3 to make it a four-point lead early in the fourth.

“I think guys were pretty excited about the dunk(s),” Horford said. “I felt like that defensively fueled us going into the fourth.”

Millsap, at 6-foot-8, and the 6-10 Horford caused problems for Indiana’s big men all night on the perimeter with their passing skills and athleticism. They helped the Hawks outscore Indiana by four points in the paint.

“We did some good things but we didn’t handle their pressure well enough offensively,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “They got some very, very difficult coverages with Horford and Millsap out there spacing the floor we didn’t handle well enough either.”

The Hawks stayed in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-22 record. Indiana, at 26-24, fell to eighth place.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Indiana has dropped six of its last eight on the road. … George has scored at least 30 points in 15 of his 50 games. … G Monta Ellis, who averaged 20.5 points in the previous four games, scored 11.

Hawks: Atlanta has won nine of its last 11 at home. … The Hawks improved to 25-3 when scoring at least 100 points. … Led by Schroder’s nine points, the bench scored 20 – 60 less than the reserves combined for in Wednesday’s win at Philadelphia, the team’s highest total since 1987-88.

 

Indiana finds right combination to put away Hawks 111-92

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Monta Ellis scored 25 points and Myles Turner added 20 in his first NBA start to lead the Indiana Pacers past the Atlanta Hawks 111-92 on Thursday.

The Pacers snapped a three-game losing streak by outscoring the Hawks 23-2 over the final 5 minutes, 34 seconds.

Atlanta was led by Indianapolis native Jeff Teague, who had 20 points, and Al Horford, who had 14. It was the Hawks’ second loss in two nights.

After spending most of the final three quarters playing catch-up, the Hawks took a 90-88 lead when Horford made a nifty cut for a dunk with 5:55 left in the game.

But the Pacers retook the lead with a 12-0 run flurry and limited Atlanta to only one more basket.

Ellis had struggled of late and was shooting just 27.9 percent from 3-point range coming into the game.

But Turner’s presence helped turn things around. Ellis was 7 of 11 from the field and 5 of 7 on 3s, while Turner, Indiana’s first-round draft pick, went 9 of 17 from the field and had six rebounds.

Turner broke a 63-63 tie in the third quarter by scoring seven straight points. After he returned midway through the fourth quarter, the Pacers regained control as George Hill made a 3-pointer, Paul George and Ellis combined to make five straight free throws, Ian Mahinmi scored on a dunk and Ellis hit another jumper to make it 100-90.

NEW LOOK

Before the game, coach Frank Vogel announced he was inserting Turner into the lineup in place of Lavoy Allen to give the Pacers a “spark.” Now it looks like the move could stick. “It looks on paper, like something I’m pretty excited about,” Vogel said. “If it’s a colossal failure we’ll go away from it sooner than later.”

TIP-INS

Hawks: Forward Paul Millsap did not play in the second half after spraining his left ankle. … The Hawks have lost two straight regular-season games to the Pacers after winning the previous four in a row. … The Hawks were just 7 of 28 on 3s and were outrebounded 49-32.

Pacers: Avoided losing their third straight home game, which would have been a season high. … Backup guard Rodney Stuckey has already missed two weeks with a sprained right foot and a bone bruise in the foot, and Vogel said he is expected to miss more time before he returns. … It was coaches’ night in Indy, with Colts coach Chuck Pagano and Butler basketball coach Chris Hollmann both attending the game.

UP NEXT

Hawks visit Heat on Sunday.

Pacers host Nuggets on Saturday.