Down by 20 in the third quarter, on the road, with the momentum of the series hanging in the balance Paul George single handedly willed the Pacers to a 95-92 win in game four against the Wizards.
After a dreadful second quarter that saw Indiana miss 14 of their 17 attempts for a season low 11 points, George took matters into his own hands during the third quarter. The fourth-year-forward fueled a 17-2 Pacers run that got them back into the game. George knocked down four three-pointers in the third frame as Indiana outscored Washington 33-17.
“He knocked down shots… he works so hard,” said Pacers guard Lance Stephenson who scored eight points and pulled down nine rebounds. “He knocked down big shots. That is why he is a superstar.”
The Wizards used 18 fast break points in the first half to build their big lead. After the final buzzer that number remained at 18 and Pacers coach Frank Vogel said that his team never felt like they were out of the game.
“We’ve got great confidence in ourselves, especially on the defensive end,” said Vogel. “We can go stretches of games without allowing a point. When you’re down big you have to understand that you’re capable of putting together a string of stops and that’s what you need to make a run.”
George would go on to score 28 of his playoff career high 39 points in the second half. Not only did George carry the load offensively, but he also held Bradley Beal to just three points on 1-of-5 shooting during the fourth quarter. Vogel offered to give his star a blow by having somebody else cover Beal, but George said that wasn’t even an option in his mind.
“I hate not finishing off my assignment, said George who played 46 of the 48 minutes. If coach tells me to guard somebody or if I feel I need to guard somebody. I want to make sure I get the job done. I wanted to stay with my match up. He’s a guy who can get hot. So I didn’t want to let him get hot.”
Indiana now heads home for game five with a commanding 3-1 series lead. While the rest of the Pacers have been inconsistent at best, George has been the one constant.
“Sometimes you can get outdone by a special performance and what Paul George did tonight was special, there’s no way else to put it,” said Vogel. “He’s one of the best, probably the best wing defender in the game. Bradley Beal is really difficult to guard and it makes you expend a lot of energy. So to be able to do that for 46 minutes and put up 39, 12-for-20 from the field and 7-for-1o from three, that’s a special performance.”