[February 08, 2014]INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers'
public address announcer introduces George Hill as the "hometown hero."
On Friday night, Hill did everything but sell concessions, saving
the game with a tying 3-pointer late in regulation and then giving
the Pacers the lead for good in overtime.
Indiana's underappreciated point guard, known more as an
Indianapolis native than an impact player, scored a career-high 37
points, added nine rebounds and eight assists and keyed the Pacers'
rally in a 118-113 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
"It was fun," said Hill, who made 12 of 19 shots from the field and
11 of 12 free throws. "I don't know what it was. I just felt
Along the way, Hill outshined his All-Star counterpart, Portland
guard Damian Lillard, who racked up 38 points and 11 assists but ran
out of gas late in an epic duel of two of the NBA's best teams.
"We know they're good," Lillard said. "I thought we played well
against a championship-level team who found a way to get it done.
Hill played great."
Hill was not alone.
Forward David West scored 23 of his season-high 30 points after
halftime for Indiana (39-10), which trailed by 12 in the first half
but improved to 13-1 in its last 14 home games. All-Star forward
Paul George had 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
After Lillard's 3-pointer pulled Portland to 113-110 with just under
a minute left in overtime, George made a step-back jumper over
Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge to stretch Indiana's lead to five
with 17.8 seconds left. That shot proved the dagger in a
"I thought it was a well-played game by both teams," Blazers coach
Terry Stotts said.
Portland (35-15) got 17 points and 14 rebounds from center Robin
Lopez, Aldridge finished with 22 points and nine rebounds and guard
Wesley Matthews scored 19.
Portland produced just four points on its first seven trips of
overtime and fell behind 111-107 when Aldridge mistakenly threw a
pass right to West, who was able to turn and dunk. Hill's banker had
put Indiana in front with 2:21 left.
With Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano and wide receiver Reggie
Wayne part of Indiana's 16th sellout of the season, there was a
playoff vibe inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers, who won their fourth straight home meeting with
Portland, were on the ropes in the fourth quarter.
Aldridge hit two free throws and a jumper, Matthews made a corner
3-pointer and Lillard's change-of-pace drive extended the Blazers'
lead to 87-79 with 6:57 remaining.
That's when Portland came unglued, letting the Pacers score on 11
straight possessions, with offensive rebounds on five of those
"We had that game," Matthews said. "They got the hustle possessions
toward the end. We did an excellent job of forcing misses. We just
didn't get the rebound."
George's 3-pointer capped the Pacers' hot streak and gave them a
100-99 lead with 1:30 left. But Matthews responded with a jumper,
the Pacers turned it over and forward Nicolas Batum made two free
throws to give Portland a 103-100 lead.
After George missed a 3-point shot with about 13 seconds remaining,
Pacers center Roy Hibbert won a loose-ball scramble and pitched to
Hill, who drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to tie it.
"I was trying to move to an open spot," Hill said.
Batum missed a difficult fallaway at the buzzer to send the game to
overtime. All told, it was a 24-16 run in the final 6:37 of
regulation for the Pacers, who lost to Portland 106-102 on the road
on Dec. 2.
"This was a big win for us," West said. "Against the top teams,
you've got to get wins throughout the year."
The Pacers led 60-59, their first lead of the game, on a three-point
play by West with under seven minutes left in the third quarter. But
the Blazers outscored them 18-11, with Lillard and guard C.J.
McCollum each scoring six, to grab a 77-71 lead heading into the
Lillard sat down for a breather late in the first quarter when the
Blazers pushed ahead 28-16. After bench-heavy lineups struggled
early in the second quarter, Lillard scored 14 of the Blazers' final
20 points, extending their lead to 50-45 at halftime.
The Blazers raced to a 6-0 lead to open the game before Hill sparked
the Indiana offense with two aggressive drives. Aldridge scored 11
of his 15 first-half points in the first quarter when he used his
quickness against Indiana's big men.
But Portland's star, who posted his 40th 20-point game of the season
and trails only Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant in that
category, made just two field goals after halftime while West and
Hill went wild.
"We always say it's a long game with the defense we play," Hill
said. "When I first walked in here, I was yelling at everybody that
I have a lot of energy. I knew we'd keep grinding."
NOTES: Pacers coach Frank Vogel said backup C Andrew Bynum, who has
not played since Dec. 26 when he was still with Cleveland, will be
evaluated a week or two after the All-Star break. ... Pacers G Lance
Stephenson (sore lower back) sat out, marking just the fifth time a
member of Indiana's starting lineup missed a game this season. ...
Portland G Mo Williams left the team to be with his sister, who was
hospitalized earlier this week. Coach Terry Stotts was unsure how
long Williams might be away. ... The Blazers conclude their
four-game road trip on Saturday in Minnesota.