George scores 34 to lead Pacers over Bulls 80-76
CHICAGO (AP) — Paul George has found himself a new routine.
After laying a goose-egg his last time out, George scored 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers to an 80-76 win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.
Roy Hibbert added 10 points, 11 rebounds and a game-saving block for Indiana, which closed a four-game road trip with three victories.
The Bulls, who failed to win three straight for the first time this season, were able to keep David West, Indiana's leading scorer, in check — but George picked up the slack.
George scored 10 points in the first quarter, highlighted by a thunderous dunk as George Hill's 3-point attempt bounced up off the back of the rim. It was George's best performance since scoring a career-high 37 points Nov. 21 against New Orleans. George went scoreless Saturday at Golden State, missing all seven of his shots.
"I'm always my worst critic," George said. "When we got back, we had the day off and I knew that I needed to work. I headed over to the gym, put up 500 shots, mixed it up from floaters to mid-range to 3-pointers. That's something that's got to be a routine for me."
Up two points in the closing seconds, Hibbert was the recipient of a controversial no-call that sent the home crowd into a frenzy. Luol Deng drove along the base line and was rejected by Hibbert, falling to the floor as West grabbed the rebound to send the Pacers back to the line to ice the game.
Hibbert stayed in Indiana over the summer to work on defense with his coaches. Coach Frank Vogel was ecstatic to see it pay off.
"You're allowed to jump straight up," Vogel explained. "No matter where you are, you're allowed to jump straight up and absorb contact."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau saw it differently.
"In my eyes, (Deng) got wiped out," Thibodeau said. "I'm not going to put it on the officials. We've still got to get it done. Tough call went against us."
Hibbert had little offensive impact in the first half, scoring two points, but used his size to take over in the third quarter when Indiana outscored Chicago 25-18. Then he put the game away with his defense.
"I do that all the time," Hibbert said about the play on Deng. "I jump straight up and take the contact. I play defense. That's my staple. If my offense isn't going, I always have to play defense. I want to make the all-defensive team this year."
Hibbert has blocked at least two shots in 12 straight games.