The light switch may finally be on for Paul George.
After struggling to find a rhythm most of the season, George seems to be in an offensive groove. His 27-point performance Wednesday night led the Indiana Pacers to a comeback 96-81 win at home over the Cleveland Cavaliers after being down 16 points late in the second quarter. George has led the team in scoring four of the last five games.
“Paul George continues to show the consistency that we believe he has,” said Pacers Head Coach Frank Vogel. “He’s becoming a special player, so we got to hope that continues.”
George has been tasked with filling the production void left by Danny Granger who has been sidelined all season due to a knee injury. Last season, George was mostly an afterthought on the offensive end, usually resigned as the fifth option in the starting five. He is now looked upon as the first or second option alongside David West.
George struggled early in the year with the heavier burden on him to produce offensively. He used many possessions settling for fadeaway jumpers and not using his 6’8” frame and athletic ability to be aggressive. It produced varying results.
He averaged 13.8 points on 38.5% shooting for the first 17 games of the season. He scored a career high 37 points, including a Pacers franchise-record nine three-pointers, against the New Orleans Hornets on November 21. However, he followed up that performance with 31 total points in the next four games, including scoring zero points in a road loss to the Golden State Warriors.
George has found his mojo since the embarrassment in the Bay Area. He is averaging 24.4 points and shooting 51.1% over the last five games, including a 34-point outburst against the Chicago Bulls.
Pacers fans can only hope this is the beginning of George’s emergence. This is the first time he has put together a string of consistent offensive production since being drafted tenth overall in 2010.
With Granger out indefinitely and Roy Hibbert struggling to live up to $58 million expectations, George has the opportunity and ability to contribute big numbers and keep Indiana in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. His development was predicted to be a key component coming into to the season, but it’s even more important now to keep the team at or above .500. Time will tell if this run of great play is just an anomaly or what we should expect from George going forward.
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