The Los Angeles Clippers went into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and spanked the Indiana Pacers 110-99 in front of a bunch of fans still bitter over the OG Anthony Davis situation that was the drama involving Paul George forcing his way out of town after the 2017 season.
George erupted for 36 points on 10-of-26 shooting after a rough start, hitting 7-of-16 from long range and posting a game-high plus-20 during his 36 minutes on the floor, showing the NBA in the process that the “load management” of Kawhi Leonard doesn’t look like any more of a liability for the 2nd-in-the-West Clippers as it did for the Toronto Raptors’ title team last year.
So what you have here is a win-win. The fans get a unifying force in booing PG13 and raining hate on him for “quitting on the franchise” as several fans on Twitter put it.
And PG13 gets to silence his haters in the only way that matters for an athlete, which is by being the hero for his team as they kick the teeth of the athlete’s former team in.
If the idea of a win-win for the Pacers and Paul George sounds familiar, it’s because the human embodiment of that win-win is watching his teammates hold down the 6 seed in the East while he continues to recover from injury, and the other piece of the trade George forced had 18 points and 22 rebounds along with a plus-14 in a game his team lost by double digits.
The injured player is Victor Oladipo. The guy doing the Andre Drummond impersonation on the boards is Domantas Sabonis. And adding some icing to the cake for the Pacers, the Oklahoma City Thunder are making do with Chris Paul, a G-League team, and Russell Westbrook in Houston and PG13 in Los Angeles.
Which, all things considered and with Sabonis locked up to a long-term deal that will keep him in Indiana for the next four years, means the Pacers didn’t just get a win-win out of OKC. They outright fleeced them in the long term.
Which in turns invites its own set of questions about why Pacers fans keep this old beef going. That game is over. We won.
All booing PG13 did was make him angry. It may have gotten under his skin early, but the dude had 36 points as his team thoroughly outclassed the home team while on the second night of a back-to-back and without last year’s Finals MVP.
Then again, watching George have a conniption like he’s one of Kevin Durant‘s burner accounts on Twitter is its own joy for Pacers fans, and it’s our gift to the NBA at large.
I asked PG if he wanted to share the teaser…
"Nah, I’m not going to share the teaser. I like being the villain. I’m here two nights out of the year, the people that they should boo is here a lot longer than I am."
— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) December 10, 2019
A tell-all book, Paul? With the exception of Myles Turner and coach Nate McMillan, nobody on the Pacers was even here when you played. We don’t like any of those guys either, because the 2016 and ’17 Pacers were the most soulless, unwatchable, test-our-loyalty squads in the history of the franchise.
When we got Oladipo and Sabonis, we got fun back in Indiana. And if we fire McMillan and get a coach who can actually run an efficient, up-tempo, three-point-bombing modern team, we’ll really be having some fun.
So throw Larry Bird under the bus. Tie Nate and Kevin Pritchard to the railroad tracks like an Old West villain. Revel in the joy of playing for a franchise that everyone in Los Angeles forgot about in as much time as it took LeBron James and Anthony Davis to make the Lakers relevant again (seriously, Steve Ballmer, just move Microsoft Hoops to Seattle. You’re never winning the LA market.)
Or at least take a lesson from your superstar teammate, about whom I’ve never heard a bad word said by Raptors fans because—well OK, in part because they’re Canadian—he came in, won their city a title, and went back home for his next challenge.
Even Cleveland came to terms with LeBron.
But here’s Paul George, being as whiny as 2020 approaches as he was in 2017 when he was the best player on a trash team that set the fans on a path of thinking 40-some wins and a first-round playoff exit is a successful season.
Boo your heads off, Pacers fans. Then point at the Thunder and laugh.