Indiana Pacers guard Paul George looked slightly stunned as he sat by his locker, icing his shoulder.
George had just completed his best scoring night in an NBA uniform. He poured in a career-high 43 points and became the first Pacer to record at least 40 points and seven 3-pointers since Indiana great Reggie Miller.
Paul George had a beast of a game, Indiana coach Frank Vogel said.
All of that was not enough. The Trail Blazers defeated the Pacers 106-102 Monday night at Moda Center.
George scored 12 of the Pacers' first 14 points and ended the first quarter with 14 points.
I knew they were going to try to take me out of the game early, but I wanted to start out the game being aggressive, the 6-9 shooting guard said.
After playing all 12 minutes of the first quarter, the Pacers rested George in the second quarter, playing him for 4:14. The fourth-year pro from Fresno State didn't get into a rhythm and finished the quarter with two points.
I clocked in with about four minutes left, George said, smiling a little. I dont know how much you want me to do in three minutes.
George put up 10 points in the third quarter and then caught fire. After the Blazers pulled ahead, the Pacers called on George to be their deliverance. And he almost got it done. He hit shot after shot and scored 17 points in the final quarter.
I was trying to keep us in there, George said. My number was called upon in the fourth quarter. I was trying to be there for my teammates. They did a great job of getting me open, and I was fortunate to knock some shots down.
"I was trying to will us back into the game.
George went 16 of 30 from the field (.533) and 7 of 15 from beyond the arc (.466).
The shot that will haunt him, though, is the 3-pointer he missed with 19.8 seconds remaining. Indiana was trailing 103-99. Had George made that 23-footer, it could have been a different ballgame.
I wish I could get that shot back, he said.