Pacers forward Paul George swarms Hawks guard Kyle Korver during Sunday's 107-90 Game 1 playoff victory. / Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS - Uncle Reggie Miller didn't do it. Neither did Jermaine O'Neal. Ron Artest? Uh-uh.
Mark Jackson was the only Indiana Pacer to record a triple-double in the playoffs in franchise history.
That changed Sunday afternoon when Paul George removed any doubt that had crept into the minds of many about the state of the Pacers and whether he could get a jolt back into his 22-year-old legs to carry them in the playoffs.
George returned to All-Star form not only with his scoring, but also with his rebounding, passing and defending.
The third-year swingman joined Jackson in the record books by recording a triple-double in the Pacers' 107-90 Game 1 playoff victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
George finished with 23 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in 44 minutes.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is 7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday at the fieldhouse.
"It's a big deal for Paul," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "I'm happy for him, I'm happy for this community and this franchise that we have an up-and-coming player like Paul George."
George hadn't been the same player the past two weeks who had some around the league drooling over him earlier in the season.
His shot wasn't falling. He wasn't defending at a high level. He acknowledged that his legs were tired and his mind was fatigued. That's not surprising because he's counted on to defend the opposing team's best perimeter player and be the primary scoring option on the wing offensively.
George closed the regular season 17-of-60 (28.3%) from the field, including 6-of-28 (21.4%) on three-pointers.
But fatigue could no longer be an excuse, not when every game in the series matters, and definitely not after he hadn't played in a game for a week.
George didn't overhaul his game-day or practice-day routines to get ready for the playoffs. He just spent more time resting on off days. More time getting massages. More time eating healthy. And more time in the cold tub.
"I've said for this playoff run I'm leaving everything on the floor," George said. "I know what is expected of me now. I want the pressure. I'll do whatever it takes."
George was back playing with the confidence he had during the team's successful road trip against the Western Conference three weeks ago.
In the final seconds of the first half, he drove to the basket, scored, was sent to the floor on a foul by Hawks center Johan Petro, then flexed his muscles like he suddenly had Dwight Howard's physique.
Then there was the time where George got Josh Smith leaning one way, zipped the ball to his left hand, drove to the basket and put up a left-handed layup high off the glass.
George looked over at the Hawks bench and grinned as he strutted down court.
George was only 3-of-13 from the field, but didn't let the poor shooting percentage get him down.
Instead of settling for jumpers, George attacked the basket and attempted a career-high 18 free throws, making 17 of them.
"I was just telling myself, 'Keep attacking,' " George said. "My mindset is (on the) next play. I just told myself to try to get to the free throw line, stay in attack mode."
In a game where the Pacers lived up to their marketing slogan of "Blue Collar," it was only fitting that George got his triple-double when he dove on the ground for an offensive rebound to keep a possession alive. David West ended up with a three-point play to stop a Hawks' run where they had trimmed the Pacers' lead from 16 down to nine.
"He was all over the place tonight. That's who Paul George is," Vogel said. "He doesn't make the All-Star team because he's averaging 28 (points) a game like (Kevin) Durant or Carmelo (Anthony), but because he's one of the most complete players in the game."
It just happened that George impacted the game in the scoring, rebounding, defending and assists department for the Pacers.
And that's why they have a 1-0 lead over the Hawks in the series.
Mike Wells covers the NBA for The Indianapolis Star, a Gannett affiliate. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWellsNBA.
Copyright 2013 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Paul George steps up as Pacers take Game 1 vs. Hawks