clear
Friday May 26th, 2017 7:17AM

Paul George insists comments intended to motivate Pacers

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George insists it's true: Instead of being unhappy with his teammates, the four-time All-Star just wants them to play better basketball.

As for the critics, well, they fall into a different category. Less than 48 hours after the Indiana Pacers star challenged two more players in a postgame news conference, George fired back at the notion that he was not supportive of his team.

"It's complete ignorance, to be honest," he said. "Everybody knows how close I am with my teammates and I said that only to motivate my teammates to win this series and win a championship. I didn't say anything even close to throwing them under the bus. If I didn't say nothing, it would have been another story."

Twice, Indiana had chances to beat defending champion Cleveland on its home court. Both times, the Pacers failed in the final minute. And if they can't dig themselves out of an 0-2 deficit when the first-round series resumes in Indianapolis on Thursday night, George and Indiana will be facing an elimination game Sunday.

Still, George's sharp, direct complaints after the first two games caught some off guard.

He complained that C.J. Miles should not have taken the final shot in the 109-108 Game 1 loss even though Miles had an open 14-footer. George, who is 0 for 14 in his career on potential go-ahead baskets in the final 20 seconds according to basketball-reference.com, wanted Miles to pass the ball back to him.

Then, after Tuesday's 107-101 loss, George called on longtime friend Lance Stephenson to show more self-control and implored second-year center Myles Turner to get more physical. George also questioned the team's defensive effort, and Indiana's overall aggressiveness.

At age 26, George is still growing into the role of team leader and he has potentially tens of millions of dollars riding on the media's All-NBA teams. Like many other stars, George feels like he has a license to say what's on his mind.

LeBron James, for instance, has not been silent about the personnel moves he thinks the Cavs should make and has never shied away from getting in teammates' faces on the court. George named names, though the Pacers seemed to take no offense.

"In situations like that, our guys are free to speak and talk about situations like that," coach Nate McMillan said. "You challenge your guys, your teammates. We believe in each other, we trust in each other and it was not a situation like there were hurt feelings in the locker room."

In fact, George, Miles, Stephenson and Turner were smiling and laughing throughout Wednesday's practice.

Turner acknowledged he must get more physical in this series, and Stephenson said he needs to find the balance between passion and playing out of control.

"When someone is scoring on you and you show frustration, they're going to keep going at you and I think that's what Paul was talking about," Stephenson said after calling George his brother.

George is averaging 30.5 points, 7.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds in the first two games, similar to the numbers he had during a five-game winning streak that got the Pacers into the playoffs. His frustration likely runs deeper than two road losses in a first-round series against the defending champs.

Ever since Indiana took George at No. 10 overall in the 2010 draft, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward has envisioned bringing Indiana its first NBA title. And now the Pacers are two losses away from being eliminated by James' team for the fourth time in six years, the first three while James played for Miami.

In February, George was rumored to be on the trading block and there have been constant questions since then about whether George would take a max deal to stay with the Pacers after next season or return to Los Angeles where he can try to help resurrect the Lakers' franchise.

Right now, George just wants to win.

"I didn't lose no sleep over it. I never do. Sometimes players just say things differently than coaches," George said. "Everybody knows we (Stephenson and I) have a strong relationship. I didn't say anything that's going to cause any friction. We need Lance. He's a leader in the locker room and we feed off his energy."

___

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP Sports - NBA
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Russia's Victory Day parade marred by thick clouds
Heavy clouds have forced cancellation of the traditional dramatic conclusion to the annual Victory Day parade on Red Square -- the roaring flyover by scores of military aircraft
4:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Jakarta governor sentenced to 2 years prison for blasphemy
A court has sentenced the minority Christian governor of Indonesia's capital to two years in prison for blaspheming the Quran, a shocking decision that undermines the country's reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam
4:05AM ( 1 hour ago )
Oregon timber counties struggle as federal support dries up
Rural Oregon counties that used to thrive on federal timber revenues are struggling to provide basic services to residents
4:02AM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Warriors await challenge after cruising to 8-0 in playoffs
The Golden State Warriors are officially four wins from their third consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, and what is starting to look like a third straight showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers
3:08AM ( 2 hours ago )
LEADING OFF: Harvey back, Trout still out, Sabathia steps up
LEADING OFF: Harvey back, Trout still out, Sabathia steps up
2:17AM ( 3 hours ago )
Los Angeles could land Olympic Games, but which year?
Los Angeles leaders this week are trying to sell their plan for the 2024 Olympics to visiting members of the International Olympic Committee
2:07AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Sports
Houston's Nene suffers season-ending thigh injury
Houston Rockets backup center Nene has suffered a season-ending adductor tear in his left thigh
3:29PM ( 13 hours ago )
Los Angeles, Paris await Olympic inspectors in 2024 race
Los Angeles and Paris are already seen as winning options for the 2024 Games even before Olympic inspectors come to town this week
10:00AM ( 19 hours ago )
Despite high mileage, James showing no signs of slowing down
Despite high mileage, LeBron James showing no signs of slowing down as Cavs continue title march
3:24AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Basketball
Pink Grandmas remain loyal to Jazz basketball team
Utah sisters called the Pink Grandmas are known as some of the biggest Utah Jazz basketball team fans
3:20PM ( 2 days ago )
Wizards' Oubre suspended for Game 4 for knocking over Olynyk
Wizards' Kelly Oubre Jr. suspended for Game 4 for knocking over Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk
2:26PM ( 2 days ago )
For LeBron, another Cavs' sweep is within reach
No surprise: LeBron James and the Cavs have Toronto on the brink in their Eastern Conference semifinal series
12:53PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Sports - NBA
Russia's Victory Day parade marred by thick clouds
Heavy clouds have forced cancellation of the traditional dramatic conclusion to the annual Victory Day parade on Red Square -- the roaring flyover by scores of military aircraft
4:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Jakarta governor sentenced to 2 years prison for blasphemy
A court has sentenced the minority Christian governor of Indonesia's capital to two years in prison for blaspheming the Quran, a shocking decision that undermines the country's reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam
4:05AM ( 1 hour ago )
Oregon timber counties struggle as federal support dries up
Rural Oregon counties that used to thrive on federal timber revenues are struggling to provide basic services to residents
4:02AM ( 1 hour ago )
Kushner emerged as conduit for Canada on NAFTA talks
On the day the White House threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, emerged as a key conduit between the United States and Canada
3:54AM ( 1 hour ago )
Kushner firm apologizes for reference to White House ties
Kushner firm apologizes for sister's reference to family's White House ties in project promotion
3:50AM ( 1 hour ago )