Pacers' George models game after Kobe, eyes similar success

Mon Dec 2, 2013 2:17pm EST
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By Jahmal Corner

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With each pull-up jump shot and polished offensive move, Indiana Pacers forward Paul George resembles his childhood idol Kobe Bryant, yet he has managed to carve out his own identity as one of basketball's rising stars.

There are times when the similarities between George and Bryant, the guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, are uncanny: from the footwork and mid-range jumpers all the way down to the number 24 on both their jerseys.

But this is all by design, as the 23-year-old George has used Bryant as a basketball template en route to fulfilling his own limitless potential.

"Paul grew up idolizing Kobe," Pacers coach Frank Vogel told Reuters. "So much of the last two years (George has heard) stories about Kobe; about how Kobe works. They're legendary, we all know them. It's helped to establish (George's own) work ethic."

It has also established George and the league-leading Pacers as arguably the most formidable threat to the reign of the two-time defending National Basketball Association (NBA) champion Miami Heat.

Indiana's latest victory, a 105-100 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, ran their record to a near-flawless 16-1.

George left his imprint on the game with an array of dunks, fadeaways and play-making that resulted in 27 points, six rebounds and five assists.

As Bryant remains sidelined recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon, George's performance in Los Angeles was a fitting imitation of the city's biggest star.   Continued...

December 1, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) controls the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Reggie Bullock (25) during the first half at Staples Center. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports