George aims to put finishing touch on Indy title bid
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - There is a new closer on the NBA scene and the Indiana Pacers hope that emerging finisher Paul George will enable the team to take the next step and unseat the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
George, 23, was named Most Improved Player of the 2012-13 campaign and believes he has progressed even more this season for the 10-1 Pacers, who forced Miami to a decisive seventh game in last season's Eastern Conference Finals.
The quick, 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12.1 points after being made a starter in his second year when the Pacers reached the conference semi-finals, and added more than five points a game to that regular season average last season.
So far this season George is averaging 24.4 points, armed with burgeoning confidence after a hard-working offseason spent preparing for his new role.
"I know what player I can be," George told reporters after scoring a game-high 35 points in Indiana's 103-96 comeback win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
"I know that I can be at an elite level, be a top player in this league. It's just me believing in myself.
"I am more improved. I got completely better than the player last year. Might be possible to win (most improved) again," he added with a chuckle.
George, a defensive force who also had the duty of covering New York high scorer Carmelo Anthony in the victory, is on a fast-track to stardom in the eyes of Indiana coach Frank Vogel. Continued...