Blazers’ Aldridge, Lillard Bring Out Best In Pacers’ West, Hill


VIDEO: George Hill, David West lead Pacers over Trail Blazers

INDIANAPOLIS – Two All-Stars, a point guard and a power forward, get it going. Two proud veterans, a point guard and a power forward, fire back.

David West and George Hill have been around too long, and have too much going on this season, to get caught up in the snubbery of All-Star roster limitations. But sometimes matchups and challenges do get personal, and when they sync up with the team’s agenda, special things can happen.

Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge will be representing the Portland Trail Blazers next weekend in New Orleans as members of the West All-Stars. Hill and West won’t – the Indiana Pacers instead will send Paul George and Roy Hibbert to the showcase event with the East All-Stars.

Still, Hill and West were determined Friday not to let the Blazers’ best get an early start, showing off for a national TV audience a week early on the Pacers’ court. And with shooting guard Lance Stephenson on the side in street clothes, his back still sore from the spectacularly scary tumble he took in Atlanta a few days earlier, and both Paul George and Hibbert misfiring at a disturbing rate, well, the chores fell to Hill and West.

“Just the next-man-up mentality,” Hill said after scoring a career-high 37 points in Indiana’s 118-113 overtime victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “All season long, we’ve kind of sat in the shadow because of the success we had. When things are not broke, you don’t fix it. All year long we’ve been riding on Paul and Lance and Roy, but tonight it was a struggle for them, so we knew the next man had to step up.”

Hill edged close to a triple-double with nine rebounds and eight assists. His 12 field goals were his most ever and he matched career-highs with 12 free throws and 11 makes.

West’s 30 points were his most this season and he grabbed 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double. It was the first game this season in which two Indiana players scored 30 points or more and, what d’ya know, neither of them was named Paul George.

“When I first walked in here I was yelling at everybody that I have a lot of energy today,” Hill said. “From 5 o’clock when we came here to start shooting – I don’t know what it was. I just felt different.”

Neither he nor West could have felt great at halftime. Aldridge (five years younger than West) scored 11 points in the first quarter and Lillard (four years younger than Hill) had 14 in the second. Portland was leading, 50-45, and the two Blazers were beating their counterparts 35-19. With the other three Indiana starters managing just 13 (Paul George was 2-for-8 and Hibbert had missed three of his four shots). Danny Granger, subbing for Stephenson, was making just his second start in what would become his longest (40:10) stint this season and didn’t have the legs to help much.

As Pacers coach Frank Vogel said: “We needed another attacker off the bounce.”

West made sure that Hill understood: It was going to be him.

“I wanted George to be aggressive, that was the key,” West said. “Sometimes he can kind of defer to get other guys going but, particularly with the way Lillard was playing in the first half, I just was fussing at him a little bit to get him to go. ‘Just be aggressive.’ When he plays like that, we’re pretty hard to beat.”

The game was billed as a classic clash between one of the league’s most potent offenses and its stingiest defense. That wasn’t going so well for Indiana, giving up 50 points and 49 field-goal attempts in that first half. It was time for the Pacers’ offense to lighten the load a little.

Said West: “One thing I learned playing with CP [Chris Paul] for [six] years was, great scoring point guards don’t like to play defense. When you put pressure on them to guard, it takes a little something out of them on the offensive end.

“We found a crack in their armor where we attacked Lillard up top. George was doing a good job of putting pressure on them to guard him. When we got switches, he made plays.”

As first Aldridge, then Lillard got into foul trouble, Hill forced the issue. He went early in the clock, pushing before Portland’s defense could get set. And he went straight at Aldridge again and again, with the Blazers’ star having to balance his own aggressiveness in order to stay on the floor.

West had his own fires burning. “You could see the look in David West’s eyes all night,” Vogel said. “He put the whole team on his back.”

Both Pacers had signature plays late in the thriller: Hill’s came near the end of regulation, Indiana down 103-100, when he made himself available after Paul George’s 3-point attempt to tie bounced off. Hibbert chased down an offensive rebound and shoveled it to Hill, who coolly drained his 3-pointer from the left wing.

West found himself near the lane in overtime, in Portland’s backcourt, when Aldridge started to lose his balance. “I was just trying to hang around to see where he was going to throw it,” West said. Aldridge’s off-balance pass hit West right in the hands and he immediately dunked it for a 111-107 lead with 1:37 left.

Lillard wasn’t done – he hit a pair of cold-blooded shots from the arc – but his 38 points weren’t enough. Nor was Aldridge’s 11 over his final 28 minutes, compared to his 11 in 12 to start. Over the second half plus overtime, Hill and West outscored the two Portland All-Stars 48-25.

“Sometimes,” Vogel said, “the best defense is to go back at the guy.”

Going back at All-Stars brought out the best in Hill and West.


VIDEO: Hill erupts for 37 points against Portland

33 Comments

  1. MrBasketball says:

    And I should mention that i am a fan of the pacers team. i love the way they play. hard. Gritty. You don’t see that anymore in teams. bunch of bloody primadonnas

  2. MrBasketball says:

    @TroyBoy, you obviously have no clue about basketball. Scotty pippen was one of the best players in the league in his day. His only problem was that he was playing right next to the Best play probably of all time in Micheal Jordan. that’s why the bulls were so great – they had two wing players who were the best two players on the court every night. PG is not even in the conversation with Scottie Pippen. Scottie pippen was a scorer and excellent defender who could guard 4 positions on the court. PG has the potential to become a great player. If he can work on his skill year to year and on his strength as well as is decision making he could be great. All I am saying is that there is no way that Lebron gets a wide open lane to the basket with scottie defending him at the end of the game. Enough Said.

  3. okc2014 says:

    There is nothing bad anyone can say about the Pacers. And I’m an OKC fan. This is the team that will beat Miami-every tea has a bad night-this team hardly has this entire season. The have the best record in the NBA and seem to outmatch every team they play.

  4. Kuro says:

    These two teams have given us two of the best games of the year. Looking forward to watching both of their playoff runs this year.

  5. Saso says:

    Hill, West and Lillard were terrific last night, and George came up big when needed. Congrats to Batum for his defense on George. LA wasn’t that good, especially in big moments.

  6. Why does everyone sleep on George Hill, people make it seem like he’s the face of Indiana he’s a very talented player and his leaping ability is amazing he dominates defenders but I believe George Hill could’ve at least made the bench in the All Star Game next week
    All Star Starting Lineup ( In My Opinion )
    East :
    PG: Kyrie Irving
    SG: Dwayne Wade
    SF: Carmelo Anthony
    PF: Paul George
    C: LeBron James
    Bench
    PG: Deron Williams
    SG: J.R. Smith
    SF:
    PF: Chris Bosh
    C: Brook Lopez

    West
    PG: Chris Paul
    SG: Kobe Bryant
    SF: James Harden
    PF: Kevin Durant
    C: Dwight Howard
    Bench
    PG: Damian Lillard
    SG: Nate Robinson
    SF: Rudy Gay
    PF: Kenneth Faried
    C:

  7. dustydreamnz says:

    The Pacers aren’t at their best at the moment which is scary for other teams.

  8. on a nice pace says:

    Actually the two people i dont like on the pacers are david west and granger so it was a surprise

    • wade says:

      Both of those names u should know both former all-stars and both have averaged around 20pts per game in the past

  9. awguitars says:

    The Blazers are my team but they are constantly in trouble at the end of games. That leads to last second heroics… or failure. If they could play even average D they would be a great team but for now they are fun to watch and an early playoff exit. Sorry Portlandia!

  10. Kevin says:

    If you are a critic of Paul George you really need to look at the rest of the Pacer team. David West is an experienced veteran who you trust to lead the team. Paul George has played inconsistent a few times this season just like last night, but his team still gets the win. You have to realize he is still young, other young superstars such as James Harden have bad nights just as often. He is 23 years old and rising, but still a guy that hits huge shots when needed.

  11. SB says:

    I’m a die hard pacers fan and I’ll admit that paul george isn’t the pacers leader. Its David West. Paul George only plays well in blowout wins except for when they played the blazers last time.

  12. TROYBOY says:

    That is showing championship level of play. When your stars aren’t playing well, the others step up. The season is a marathon and building and establishing the others is very important if a team wants to win it all. This Pacer team is way better than what they had last year. Danny Granger will get better. Luis Scola is a veteran that can score. Watson is an upgrade from Augustine. Lance Stevenson is a most improve player candidate. And adding Bynum might be the biggest move of the year. This team knows how to play when the game is on the line. I don’t think they lost an OT game yet.

    I’m not saying that they will beat the Heat. The Pacers did what they’re supposed to do to take the next step. They got better.

  13. Charles Payne says:

    Great game from George Hill! Just like the good old days at Broad Ripple High!

  14. Charles Payne says:

    Great game from George Hill. None of us back in Indy who have followed George’s career since his days at Broad Ripple are suprised. For you Pacer haters out there “TOO BAD”!

  15. hellon says:

    And also Hill,I forgot to mention him

  16. hellon says:

    No way,someone finally noticed PG’s and Hibbert’s bad shooting?And still,they compare PG to Pippen?This Pacers team was just lucky.Not a fan of Heat,but Indy’s going to be crushed…or maybe the real stars of this team,Stephenson and West,will carry them over Miami…

    • TROYBOY says:

      I agree. I don’t compare PG to Pippen. PG is a Superstar and Scottie Pippen was just an All Star. Pippen was never in an MVP conversation and he played with the best basketball player that ever lived.

      Hibbert is a Rim Protector. Anything you get from him helps the team. If he gives them 8 points or 6 rebounds or whatever, they still win with the other guys.

      People like to point out when guys are not doing what they’re used to seeing but winning is the only thing that matters. We can pinpoint negative stats each player on the Pacer team have and yet they’re still winning. This team is winning regardless of who’s struggling.

      • Red says:

        Scottie Pippen is an All time Great, it’s to early to compare PG to Pippen.

      • jon john says:

        lol PG better than Pippen? Thanks for letting the world know you never saw basketball back then. PG isn’t on the same level as Pippen. It’s not even close. Pacers are doing well. That’s all

      • LOL says:

        Troyboy u have absolutely NO idea what your talkin about.. PG is NOT a superstar to whoever thinks so..superstars are REALLY consistent..PG really alot of times IS NOT.. end of story.

  17. wew says:

    paul george loses his touch before the all-star game? that would be terrible if he play like that in front of other all-stars. hope that it wouldn’t be the case when they enter the play-offs. if he would be like that, bang! the east is going to be miami’s.

  18. Sleepless Bull says:

    I still dont understand how the Blazers lost that game last night.. and how they did Big mistake after Big mistake.. it was like they were stoned or something… All the lost Rebounds and TO in the last minutes… that was insane… the owned that game but somehow managed to loose it!!

  19. kevin says:

    great game nice to see others step up..dunno what up with paul george mabey he has pregnant strippers on the brain lol..but was nice seeing hill aggressive..and always west is a beast when he needs to be