NBA Basketball

Pacers ready to face Thunder, former player George

Paul George starred for the Indiana Pacers for seven seasons before the trade that sent him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2017 offseason.

Lately, George hadn't looked like himself as he returned from a right shoulder injury that kept him out for three games before he broke out Wednesday night in a Thunder home win over Brooklyn leading into Thursday's game at Indiana.

George broke loose against the Nets, going 9 of 18 from the floor with 25 points and 3 of 6 from behind the 3-point line to show positive signs after four games of struggle.

Early in that game, George took a hit to his left shoulder -- not the one that kept him out recently.

George said the shoulder was giving him problems.

"It ain't broke, so I'm going to keep going out there to play," George said.

Oklahoma City comes into the game having won two consecutive games and four of six.

The game is one of just five road games for the Thunder down the stretch.

During George's first return to Indiana since the trade, he was just 3 of 14 from the floor with 12 points in December 2017, though the Thunder were able to escape with the win.

It's still a big game for Indiana.

"I think the city's more amped up about it more than anything but for us, it's just another game," Pacers center Myles Turner said. "We have to take care of business."

The teams haven't played yet this season, with Indiana's visit to Oklahoma City scheduled March 27.

The Pacers are coming off a Tuesday home win over the Knicks.

The game is the last at home before a four-game road trip among Western Conference playoff teams.

Indiana has lost five of their last eight and just one of their 11 wins since Victor Oladipo's season-ending injury in late January has come against a team that is currently .500 of better.

But the Pacers have still managed to hold onto the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference heading into Thursday's game, going 11-6 since a four-game losing streak in the immediate aftermath of Oladipo's injury.

"(This) is a team where I think we don't have as much talent as we did before, but we all work extremely hard," Turner told the Indianapolis Star. "It's a pleasure to go to battle with these guys every night. You want to go to battle with guys who are going to outwork you rather than a guy with more talent."

Indiana has to have success against teams near the top of the standings, though, or they could slip quickly.

Thursday's game marks the start of eight consecutive games against teams currently in playoff position.

"You're hearing all the comments from people about how we're playing and the stretch we have coming up," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "Look, we're going to be OK. We know what the schedule is."

The Pacers will be without Tyreke Evans for the third consecutive game due to a personal matter.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 14, 2019

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