George aims to put finishing touch on Indy title bid

Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:08pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

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...

Nov 20, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) controls the ball against New York Knicks shooting guard Iman Shumpert (21) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports