INDIANAPOLIS – Paul George made no attempt to downplay the importance of his matchup with LeBron James.
Its a chance to for me to see where Im at, going against one of the best, if not, the best in the league, George said. Another challenge to myself to go at LeBron. I definitely wanted to battle him.
George rose to the occasion with 29 points and 11 rebounds, and the Pacers held Miami to a season-low point total in an 87-77 win over the Heat on Tuesday night.
George has moved from shooting guard to small forward and has become a primary scoring option with Danny Granger, Indianas leading scorer last season, out all season because of a left knee injury.
Indianas 22-year-old forward has earned James respect for the way he has handled his new responsibilities.
I see him playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of opportunities, James said.
The simple fact that Danny Granger is hurt has created this opportunity for him to show what he can do. Hes doing everything. He was a good player last year, but we werent able to see it because he wasnt a featured player.
David West added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Lance Stephenson chipped in with 13 points for the Pacers (21-14), who have won 11 of their last 14 games.
Dwyane Wade scored 30 points and James had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Miami (23-10), which still has the best record in the Eastern Conference.
It was the first time the teams had met since Miami beat the Pacers in six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year.
The Pacers outrebounded the Heat 55-36 to help make up for 36 percent shooting.
ROCKETS 125, LAKERS 112: In Houston, James Harden scored 31 and Chandler Parsons added 20 to help the Rockets pick up their fifth straight win and hand L.A. its season-high fourth straight loss.
Metta World Peace had a season-high 24 points for the Lakers, who were playing without injured Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill. Kobe Bryant added 20 for the Lakers.
BUCKS 108, SUNS 99: In Milwaukee, Brandon Jennings scored 29 points as Milwaukee gave Jim Boylan a win in his first game as coach. Goran Dragic scored 21 points for Phoenix.
TIMBERWOLVES 108, HAWKS 103: In Minneapolis, Nikola Pekovic had 25 points and a career-high 18 rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko added 21 points for Minnesota. Josh Smith had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Al Horford had 19 points and 11 boards for the Hawks.
NETS 109, 76ERS 89: In Philadelphia, Reggie Evans grabbed a career-high 23 rebounds and Deron Williams scored 22 points to lead Brooklyn. Jrue Holiday scored 19 points and Spencer Hawes had 14 for the Sixers.