DALLAS (AP) — Paul George and the Indiana Pacers are getting more and more confident.
They should be with the way they’re playing — especially on the road.
George hit seven 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 30 points as the Pacers won in Dallas for the first time in eight years, beating the defending NBA champions 98-87 Friday night.
“Yeah, he’s oozing confidence, as is our whole team,” coach Frank Vogel said.
The Pacers have won four consecutive games, three of those on the road. Their 10 road victories are tied with Chicago for the most in the NBA this season.
Indiana took the lead for good with seven consecutive points in the first 2 minutes of the second half. George made a go-ahead running layup then had a steal that he turned into a dunk and a free throw.
“I’ve grown into a confident player. I feel like I can knock down any shot,” said George, the second-year post player from Fresno State. “I’ve got a comfort level out there right now.”
The Pacers had lost 11 of their previous 12 road games against the Mavs, winning only in 2004. This was their only scheduled meeting this year against Dallas.
There was also the impressive segment early in the fourth quarter when George blocked a fast-break layup attempt by Jason Terry. The Pacers got the rebound and quickly went the other way, with George hitting a 3-pointer.
George also had five assists, five steals and no turnovers in more than 41 minutes.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a performance like PG gave us from both ends of the floor,” Vogel said.
David West added 20 points for the Pacers, while Danny Granger had 16 and Darren Collison 13. Roy Hibbert, the other Indiana starter, had nine points and 14 rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 30 for Dallas on 12-of-17 shooting. That was a big boost for last year’s NBA finals MVP, who was playing his fourth game after a planned four-game hiatus to strengthen his sore right knee.
“At least Dirk was able to get into a rhythm tonight,” Shawn Marion said.
In the previous three games since returning, Nowitzki had scored only 28 total points while shooting 28 percent (11 of 39). That led to NBA analyst Charles Barkley saying during an appearance on ESPN Dallas radio this week that Nowitzki’s role as one of the league’s top players was fading fast.
“I had some good looks and knocked them down. I finally got into a good rhythm. The strength in my legs is coming back. Hard work always pays off,” Nowitzki said. “I couldn’t prove him wrong the last couple of weeks.”
Vince Carter added 14 points for Dallas, which has lost consecutive games at home for the first time since losing the first two games of the season back in December.
Dallas had a 53-52 halftime lead before Indiana’s quick second-half surge.
George had the quick layup, then a steal after a bad pass by Nowitzki. The Mavericks had two more turnovers before Collison’s 21-foot jumper made it 59-53 and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle called time out.
The Pacers stretched the lead to 69-59 on a 3-pointer by George. That ended a session when Hibbert missed inside, West got the rebound and pushed the ball outside to one wing before it went to George on the right side.
George’s seven 3s were one off the Indiana franchise record set by Reggie Miller in 1997.
“He’s a good player. We played a lot of zone tonight and we lost him a few times on the zone,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s a good 3-point shooter. He made shots and there were other plays we made mistakes on. He had a big night and they had a lot of other guys who played well too.”
The Pacers got off to a fast start, making their first eight shots and taking a 25-17 lead on Granger’s 3-pointer less than 6 minutes into the game. They finished at 43 percent (37 of 87).
Nowtizki had 20 points by halftime, when he was already 9-of-11 shooting.
Things were still going good for Nowitzki when, with 2 1/2 minutes left in the game, he was falling away from the basket and flung a ball up and in while being fouled. He added the free throw, but the Mavs still trailed by 11.
“Every day he’s moving better. At some point, this kind of game was going to be a reality,” Carlisle said. “It was great to see because he was doing everything. He was shooting the ball, he was driving the ball, rebounding. Overall, he was very active. Very positive.”
Notes: Mavericks 7-foot center Brendan Haywood used both hands to shove 6-6 Dahntay Jones when they were face-to-face and yapping at each other near the Dallas basket after a made shot with about 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Officials conferred and called a double technical foul. … Dallas guard Jason Kidd missed his fourth consecutive game because of a strained right calf. He will also miss Saturday’s game at Cleveland, but said he is feeling better and could be back for the next game, Wednesday night at Denver. … The Pacers were without George Hill (chip fracture left ankle) and Jeff Foster (lower back). Foster hasn’t dressed for the last 10 games, Hill for the last two.
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