Indiana Pacers forward Paul George followed his worst showing of the season with a big-time game earlier this week.
On Thursday night, the Pacers look to continue their winning ways against the visiting New York Knicks, a team George dominated earlier this season.
George scored 31 points in leading Indiana (30-7) to a 116-92 victory over Sacramento on Tuesday. That followed his lowest-scoring game of the season, an eight-point effort on 2-of-14 shooting in a 93-66 win against Washington on Friday.
"I wasn't shooting the ball well. I try to limit those, but some nights it's going to be like that, I guess," George told the team's official website. "(Against the Kings) I got back into a rhythm."
George has already shown he can fill it up against the Knicks (15-23). When the teams met Nov. 20 in New York, George scored 21 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, helping Indiana to a 103-96 win. In their second-round playoff series last season, which the Pacers won in six games, George averaged 19.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
Along with their top player getting back on track, the Pacers also will have the advantage of playing at home, where they have been nearly unstoppable. Indiana has the NBA's best home record at 19-1, including wins in eight straight.
The Pacers have also won six in row against the Knicks in Indianapolis, including the playoffs.
A victory won't be easy, as New York enters riding its best stretch of the season, having won six of eight.
"The Knicks have been playing well," guard Lance Stephenson said. "We just have to stop what they like to do and bring energy, and bring excitement. Play hard defense, send them to Roy (Hibbert), who's doing a good job playing defense and blocking shots."
Hibbert, who ranks among the league leaders with 2.6 blocks per game, will be matched up against center Tyson Chandler, who is close to full strength after missing four games in the past week because of bronchitis. Chandler returned Tuesday at Charlotte but played only 16 minutes in a 108-98 loss, scoring five points and grabbing four rebounds.
"Any time you sit out multiple games, you have to try to work your way back in," Chandler said. "Get your strength back, conditioning, timing, the team has to get used to you. All those things come into play.
"Obviously Indiana has been playing great basketball throughout the year, so it will be a tough one, but it will be a nice challenge for us."
Chandler missed the first meeting this season because of a broken leg, and he was thoroughly outplayed by Hibbert in the playoffs. Chandler averaged 6.2 points and 6.0 rebounds while Hibbert averaged 13.3 points, 10.3 boards and 3.2 blocks.
Point guard Raymond Felton also was on the bench for the first matchup because of back and hip injuries, but he has been a key to the Knicks' resurgence with averages of 13.2 points and 6.0 assists over the last five games.
Felton missed 12 of the previous 13 contests due to injuries.
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points in November's meeting after averaging 28.5 in last season's playoff series.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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