George steps up pace to overhaul Clippers

LOS ANGELES • With Paul George performing at the top of his game again, the Indiana Pacers pulled away late from the short-handed Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

He scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and the Pacers won their sixth in a row, recording a 103-91 victory over the Clippers at Staples Center.

"This is definitely the best stretch I've had," said George, the National Basketball Association's fourth-leading scorer at 27.4 points per game.

He hit nine of 23 shots from the floor and five of nine three-pointers on Wednesday.

"I really put a lot of work in this summer, really just preparation to be ready night in and night out," said the forward.

He had missed almost the whole of last season after breaking his right leg in August 2014.

"I know there are going to be moments where the game is not going my way and I'm going to struggle.

"That's going to happen. But I put a lot of time in on my craft."

The result: The 25-year-old has become a rare example of a player who has returned from a serious injury even stronger.

In the 2013-14 season - the best year of the two-time All Star's career, he averaged 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals.

This campaign, he has averaged 27.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals.

His form has helped the Pacers (12-5) win 12 of their last 14 games.

Reserve guard Rodney Stuckey added 18 points for Indiana on Wednesday, centre Ian Mahinmi chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds, and back-up centre Jordan Hill contributed 13 points and eight rebounds.

Forward Blake Griffin and reserve guard Lance Stephenson, a former Pacer, scored 19 points apiece for the Clippers, who had a three-game winning run snapped.

Guard Jamal Crawford finished with 16 points.

The Clippers (10-9) played without point guard Chris Paul.

He had inflamed rib cartilage and could be out for an extended time, coach Doc Rivers said before the game.

Of the team's shooting, Stephenson said: "We had good looks, we just didn't make some of those looks." The Clippers hit just 38 per cent of their shots compared to 42.1 per cent for the Pacers.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2015, with the headline 'George steps up pace to overhaul Clippers'. Print Edition | Subscribe