If every single game played in the NBA had the star power and drama of the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers game played Friday night, then the NBA might overtake the NFL in popularity. OK, I’m exaggerating … or am I?
Each team has two current NBA All-Stars, Paul George being the only starter of the bunch. There were season highs, career highs and an unlikely hero at the end of the game — all the drama one needs when watching a sporting event. That’s exactly what this matchup has become; an event.
The Blazers and Pacers have played twice with each team winning their home game. Want to know how close it’s been? Combined scores of the two matchups … Pacers 220, Blazers 219.
Portland was led by Damian Lillard, who had 38 points and 11 assists. Aldridge had 22 points and Wesley Matthews had 19 points, but both had more shots attempted than points scored (Aldridge 9-for-24; Wes 7-for-22). Lopez had a monster double-double versus one of the best defensive centers in the NBA with 17 points and 14 rebounds as he continues to exceed any and all expectations this season.
Now I mentioned career highs earlier and here’s the first …
Damian Lillard matched his career high with 15 field goals (1/11/13 at GS). The 38 points tie for his second-best career scoring game.
— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 8, 2014
The Pacers were amazing. First, they shot 45.7 percent from the floor and dominated from the free throw line going 29-for-35, good enough for 82.9 percent (they only shoot 78.1 percent on the season from free throw). Pacers were held to zero offensive rebounds in the first half, but in the second half they had 11 — one more important than the others (video to come).
George Hill, ladies and gentlemen. Hill has been called the “weak link” in this championship roster all season long and tonight he was the difference in the game. He finished with a career-high 37 points and also chipped in nine rebounds and eight assists. David West had 30 points and 10 rebounds, George had 17 points on 5-for-23 shooting and Roy Hibbert had a quiet game on the offensive side with four points and six rebounds.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 8, 2014
The 37 points by Hill are a new career high and the 30 points by West are a season high. It should be noted that they were amazingly efficient for their highs as well; Hill shot 12-for-19 from the field and 11-for-12 from the charity stripe and West shot 13-for-16 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the stripe.
Here’s the shot (and offensive rebound) that took the game into overtime:
Nobody likes to lose and I do not usually give out “moral victories,” however Blazers’ fans can take solace in the fact that Lillard had 38 points and 11 assists against the best defensive team in the league, for the second time in this matchup they got the Pacers to play their style of play and finally it took career and season highs in points from Hill and West for the Pacers to get this win … at HOME.
The Blazers are not going away and while I don’t personally think they will make the NBA Finals, man would this be an epic seven-game series.
**You can contact Chris about this article on Twitter: @Chris_Reichert