PORTLAND — The Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers put on a show Monday at the Moda Center.
Paul George scored 43 points to lead the Pacers, but he was one-upped by Portland’s pair of stars. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Damian Lillard scored 26 points on the night to lead the Blazers to a 106-102 win.
“I thought both teams played at a high level,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “I thought they kind of mirrored each other’s style of play, particularly defensively. Neither team really caved in.”
Stotts has adopted the same defensive principles used by Indiana, the league’s best defense. Both teams were locked in a tough battle in the early going as neither team had a good offensive rhythm.
“That was a big test for us,” Aldridge said. “They play a slow, grind-it-out game. They don’t do anything tricky. They’re physical, and they do the same thing every night.”
The only exception to the rule in the early going was George, who showed he is worth every bit of his new maximum-level contract.
George was dazzling tonight for the Pacers, as he was the only perimeter player on the floor who could do anything on the offensive end with ease. George scored 14 of the Pacers’ 23 points in the first quarter on his way to a career-high in points.
George helped the Pacers take a lead of as many as nine points in the first quarter, but the game was tight throughout as neither team had a double-digit lead.
Offensively, the Blazers had to go about getting their points another way.
The Pacers are playing defense at a historically great level and did an excellent job of taking away Portland’s three-point shot.
The Blazers shot 10 fewer threes Monday than they average a game, but that didn’t stop the Blazers from scoring.
Aldridge’s turnaround jumper was as good as it’s been all year. But he took the ball to the basket, as did Lillard, which helped them get to the foul line.
“They were just attacking the paint. We sent them to the free-throw line so many times,” Indiana’s Roy Hibbert said.
The Blazers went 29 of 33 from the foul line, and 25 attempts came in the second half.
Mo Williams had a great fourth quarter helping the Blazers push the pace of the game against a team that prefers to play slow. Williams scored 13, six came in the fourth quarter on three consecutive baskets, and he also had an assist that led to a three pointer.
Aldridge, George and Lillard were fantastic in the final minutes, trading great play after great play.
However, the Blazers were able to ice the game with free throws down the stretch to put the game away and withstand a final barrage from George, who all 15 of Indiana’s final points.
“We knew it was going to be a slugfest, and we just stayed the course,” Lillard said.
Stotts was named Western Conference Coach of the Month for November. He said: "It feels good. More than anything else, awards like this, it's a team award. Player of the month guys are making the baskets but when you win an award like this…The players did a great job last month, my staff id a great job. We stayed healthy because of our health and performance department. This is definitely a team award."