The MVP chants have started making their rounds during the late stages of Indiana Pacers games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this year, but it was away from home where Paul George made his official bid for the 2013-14 league MVP.
It was a night where the top teams in their respective conferences met for the first time: Indiana, the leader of the East, and the Portland Trail Blazers, the leaders of the West. It was a night where the Pacers would get arguably their toughest challenge — a similar small-market, built-not-bought franchise. It was a night that no one watching will forget about this season.
George, a.k.a MVPG (can’t deny this sounds good when you chant it out loud or in your head), opened the game by scoring 14 of the team’s 23 first quarter points. You knew it was going to be a great game for George, but no one could have predicted the fourth quarter he would have.
The Pacers never trailed during the first three quarters, but Blazer’s Damian Lillard tied the game at 72 heading into the fourth quarter. Lillard then hit a three in the first minute of the fourth quarter to give the Blazers their first lead of the game.
George didn’t make too much noise at the beginning of the fourth quarter and appeared to save himself for the end when he knew the Pacers would need him most.
With three minutes left in the game and down 94-87, it felt like the Pacers didn’t have enough left in the tank. Then Paul George kicked it into fifth gear, something you only see the greatest player in the NBA do.
Over the next three minutes, George hit five three pointers and almost pulled off a sequel to the famous Reggie Miller eight points in nine seconds game. George finished with 17 points in the fourth quarter and 43, a new career high, for the game.
Ultimately, the Pacers fell 106-102, but the final three minutes showed George has reached the superstar level that everyone thought he could. It also showed that George was officially a serious contender to dethrone Lebron James as the NBA MVP.