NBA

George, Harden square off as Pacers host Rockets

INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George said he is starting to round into form and starting to get into playoff mode.

George has produced 30 points in a season-high three straight games and he will attempt to deliver another big game for the Indiana Pacers when they host the Houston Rockets on Sunday nights.

George scored 33 points against the Sacramento Kings Friday when the Pacers rallied from 16 points down and came away with a 115-111 overtime victory.

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"I'm feeling good," George said. "I'm feeling in rhythm, and starting to form into second half, playoff like basketball."

The Pacers have won two in a row following a three-game losing streak and their rhythm seems to be based upon George's big games. When he gets 24 or more points in a game, the Pacers are 13-3 and when he does not, Indiana is 11-19.

George played the final 16 minutes and a season-high 44:55 Friday to counter a physical opponent.

"We knew how this team plays, and we knew we had to match it," George said. "I was trying to counter their physicality and took what they gave me."

Indiana's impressive 17-6 record at home will be put to the test against the Rockets, a team that is 18-10 on the road. This will be the Pacers fourth game in the last seven nights, which could be a factor as they try to defend Houston's up-tempo offense, which is third in pace.

Houston leads the NBA in 3-point attempts (39.5) and makes (14.5) per game, while the Pacers give up the fourth most attempts (29.4) from behind the arc this season. It could be a long night for Indiana unless they defend the 3-point line like they usually do at 34.9 percent.

"We're at our best when we play physical on the defensive end," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "When we do that, we seem to also have a better flow on the offensive end."

The Rockets are just 2-2 on their current road trip. They avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season with Friday's 123-118 win at Philadelphia.

James Harden is having another MVP-caliber season. Harden had eye-popping numbers of 51 points and 13 rebounds and 13 assists Friday night for his 14th triple-double.

Harden is the only player in the NBA this season with multiple 50-point games.

"I don't know how you guard him," Rockets Coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Harden was 6-of-18 and 2-of-11 from 3-point range Wednesday in Boston but rebounded Friday to go 16-of-28 and 6-of-11 from the arc.

"I just had to get back in the gym and get my confidence back a little," Harden said. "I tried to get aggressive and knock down some shots. Assists and everything else are going to be there."

Former Hoosier and Indiana native Eric Gordon has missed the last two games (lower back), and is listed as questionable for Sunday. For the Pacers, Rodney Stuckey is still out (left hamstring strain), and Kevin Seraphin is questionable (sore left knee).

The Rockets are 3-7 in their last 10 games at Indiana.

Harden totaled 21 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in Houston's 107-103 overtime win at home on Jan. 10. 2016. George collected 25 points and 11 rebounds in Indiana's 104-101 home win on March 27.