George leads Pacers over Heat 87-77INDIANAPOLIS - Paul George made no attempt to downplay the importance of his matchup with LeBron James.
“It’s a chance to for me to see where I’m at, going against one of the best, if not the best, in the league,” George said. “Another challenge to myself to go at LeBron. I definitely wanted to battle him.”
George rose to the occasion with 29 points and 11 rebounds, and the Pacers held Miami to a season-low point total in an 87-77 win over the Heat on Tuesday night.
George has moved from shooting guard to small forward and has become a primary scoring option with Danny Granger, Indiana’s leading scorer last season, out all season because of a left knee injury.
Indiana’s 22-year-old forward has earned James’ respect for the way he has handled his new responsibilities.
“I see him playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of opportunities,” James said. “The simple fact that Danny Granger is hurt has created this opportunity for him to show what he can do. He’s doing everything. He was a good player last year, but we weren’t able to see it because he wasn’t a featured player.”
David West added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Lance Stephenson chipped in with 13 points for the Pacers (21-14), who have won 11 of their last 14 games.
Dwyane Wade scored 30 points and James had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Miami (23-10), which still has the best record in the Eastern Conference.
It was the first time the teams had met since Miami beat the Pacers in six games in the conference semifinals last year.
The Pacers outrebounded the Heat 55-36 to help make up for 36 percent shooting.
“That was a big emphasis tonight,” George said. “Miami is a team that, for as good as they are, they struggle with rebounding. We knew that coming in. We knew that we had to get the boards. And we’re bigger. We’re a big team.”
George had gone 8 for 29 in his previous two games, but he broke out of his slump by making 12 of 27 shots against Miami.
Miami entered the game leading the NBA in field goal percentage, while Indiana led the league in field goal percentage defense.
The matchup resulted in the Heat scoring only 35 points in the second half, their lowest-scoring half of the season.