Pacers spoil Paul George’s return to Indiana in close win

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 29: Buddy Hield #24 of the Indiana Pacers . (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 29: Buddy Hield #24 of the Indiana Pacers . (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Paul George hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer at the end of regulation. But it was irrelevant as his former team, the Indiana Pacers, scrapped a 131-130 win against the LA Clippers on New Year’s Eve. It looked like the Pacers were going to get away with an easy win for the most part. The Clippers were down by 12 in the third quarter until a Kawhi Leonard three tied the game at 93 before the final period.

The fourth would see both teams play cat and mouse, with nine of the game’s ten lead changes and six of the ten ties. Other than a parade of turnovers by the Clippers in the first, both teams played good basketball. Here are three talking points from this game.

PG13 and Kawhi both showed up.

It was not exactly the most welcoming atmosphere for the former Pacer, Paul George. In the first half, PG13 was accompanied by a crowd of boos while his former team led somewhat comfortably. However, in the second half the home crowd just held their breath when he had the ball. George led the Clippers with a season-high 45 points. The Clippers would have suffered a worse loss if it was not for George’s efforts.

Kawhi Leonard had a decent evening as well. 24 points in 35 minutes of play for the other half of the Clippers’ dynamic duo. Rust is still evident, but Leonard is slowly but surely getting back to his full form. The Clippers are currently sixth in the Western Conference. And with a fully healthy squad, they have plenty of time to do more damage against the competition.

Buddy Hield ends his slump against the Clippers.

In his last four outings against the Clippers, Hield scored 4, 10, 16, and 10. On Saturday, Hield had his best game against the Clips on top of the win. He was one of five Pacers in double-digits with 18 points and 5/12 from three-point territory.

The trade that sent Hield to Indiana in exchange for Domantas Sabonis has greatly benefited both sides of the transaction. With Sabonis, the Sacramento Kings have gone from the doormat of the west to the fourth seed. On the other hand, Hield is leading the league in three-point shots made this season. He has become a big trade target for a handful of teams, and more importantly, a staple in the Pacers roster.

Miles Turner got his revenge on Zubac.

Clippers center Ivica Zubac nearly tied his career high 32 points the last time they faced the Pacers. Zubac led his team with 31 points and 29 rebounds as the Clippers won 114-100 at home. In the same game, Turner struggled with only nine points.

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The tables turned on Saturday as Turner led the Pacers with 34 points. Meanwhile, Zubac looked like his shoes were glued to the hardwood all night as he finished the game with six points. Both teams have plenty to look forward to for the rest of the season and in the coming year. While the Clippers are a consistent contender in the west when healthy, the Pacers are finding incredible success and could compete well in the Eastern conference.