NBA News Wire

Hill carries Pacers past Blazers in OT

5 min read
Alan Draper profile picture
We sometimes use affiliate links in our content, when clicking on those we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you. By using this website you agree to our terms and conditions and privacy policy.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers’ public address announcer introduces George Hill as the “hometown hero.”

On Friday night, Hill did everything but sell concessions, saving the game with a tying 3-pointer late in regulation and then giving the Pacers the lead for good in overtime.

Indiana’s underappreciated point guard, known more as an Indianapolis native than an impact player, scored a career-high 37 points, added nine rebounds and eight assists and keyed the Pacers’ rally in a 118-113 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

“It was fun,” said Hill, who made 12 of 19 shots from the field and 11 of 12 free throws. “I don’t know what it was. I just felt different today.”

Along the way, Hill outshined his All-Star counterpart, Portland guard Damian Lillard, who racked up 38 points and 11 assists but ran out of gas late in an epic duel of two of the NBA’s best teams.

“We know they’re good,” Lillard said. “I thought we played well against a championship-level team who found a way to get it done. Hill played great.”

Hill was not alone.

Forward David West scored 23 of his season-high 30 points after halftime for Indiana (39-10), which trailed by 12 in the first half but improved to 13-1 in its last 14 home games. All-Star forward Paul George had 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

After Lillard’s 3-pointer pulled Portland to 113-110 with just under a minute left in overtime, George made a step-back jumper over Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge to stretch Indiana’s lead to five with 17.8 seconds left. That shot proved the dagger in a back-and-forth contest.

“I thought it was a well-played game by both teams,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

Portland (35-15) got 17 points and 14 rebounds from center Robin Lopez, Aldridge finished with 22 points and nine rebounds and guard Wesley Matthews scored 19.

Portland produced just four points on its first seven trips of overtime and fell behind 111-107 when Aldridge mistakenly threw a pass right to West, who was able to turn and dunk. Hill’s banker had put Indiana in front with 2:21 left.

With Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano and wide receiver Reggie Wayne part of Indiana’s 16th sellout of the season, there was a playoff vibe inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers, who won their fourth straight home meeting with Portland, were on the ropes in the fourth quarter.

Aldridge hit two free throws and a jumper, Matthews made a corner 3-pointer and Lillard’s change-of-pace drive extended the Blazers’ lead to 87-79 with 6:57 remaining.

That’s when Portland came unglued, letting the Pacers score on 11 straight possessions, with offensive rebounds on five of those trips.

“We had that game,” Matthews said. “They got the hustle possessions toward the end. We did an excellent job of forcing misses. We just didn’t get the rebound.”

George’s 3-pointer capped the Pacers’ hot streak and gave them a 100-99 lead with 1:30 left. But Matthews responded with a jumper, the Pacers turned it over and forward Nicolas Batum made two free throws to give Portland a 103-100 lead.

After George missed a 3-point shot with about 13 seconds remaining, Pacers center Roy Hibbert won a loose-ball scramble and pitched to Hill, who drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to tie it.

“I was trying to move to an open spot,” Hill said.

Batum missed a difficult fallaway at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. All told, it was a 24-16 run in the final 6:37 of regulation for the Pacers, who lost to Portland 106-102 on the road on Dec. 2.

“This was a big win for us,” West said. “Against the top teams, you’ve got to get wins throughout the year.”

The Pacers led 60-59, their first lead of the game, on a three-point play by West with under seven minutes left in the third quarter. But the Blazers outscored them 18-11, with Lillard and guard C.J. McCollum each scoring six, to grab a 77-71 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Lillard sat down for a breather late in the first quarter when the Blazers pushed ahead 28-16. After bench-heavy lineups struggled early in the second quarter, Lillard scored 14 of the Blazers’ final 20 points, extending their lead to 50-45 at halftime.

The Blazers raced to a 6-0 lead to open the game before Hill sparked the Indiana offense with two aggressive drives. Aldridge scored 11 of his 15 first-half points in the first quarter when he used his quickness against Indiana’s big men.

But Portland’s star, who posted his 40th 20-point game of the season and trails only Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant in that category, made just two field goals after halftime while West and Hill went wild.

“We always say it’s a long game with the defense we play,” Hill said. “When I first walked in here, I was yelling at everybody that I have a lot of energy. I knew we’d keep grinding.”

NOTES: Pacers coach Frank Vogel said backup C Andrew Bynum, who has not played since Dec. 26 when he was still with Cleveland, will be evaluated a week or two after the All-Star break. … Pacers G Lance Stephenson (sore lower back) sat out, marking just the fifth time a member of Indiana’s starting lineup missed a game this season. … Portland G Mo Williams left the team to be with his sister, who was hospitalized earlier this week. Coach Terry Stotts was unsure how long Williams might be away. … The Blazers conclude their four-game road trip on Saturday in Minnesota.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

Trending Now