Indiana George and the Temple of Doom

by

AT&T CENTER — Who would have thought that George Hill, mild mannered backup point guard for the San Antonio Spurs, was merely a cover for his more potent alter ego, super sub Indiana George?

In the midst of a six game losing streak, extended in part due to a careless turnover committed by Hill in Houston, Indiana George came out yesterday guns blazing. The reserve—and normally reserved—guard hit his first five shots en route to 29 points and four assists in the Spurs 114-97 victory.

For most of the season, Hill has managed to keep near the level of play that made him one of the most improved players in the NBA a season ago. Now Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is asking for more. He’s asking him to go back to his roots, to return to Indiana.

“We’re trying to get him to the point where every time he steps on the floor he knows that he’s a heck of a player, that we want him to be aggressive and that he has the green light to do that and be a scorer,” Popovich said. “It’s just a process. He’s a young guy and a respectful guy who defers and wants everybody to be happy.

“In an ironic sort of way, we’re trying to get him to be more selfish.”

The reeling-in of Hill’s scoring instincts was never by design, according to Popovich. Tagged with the label backup point guard, Pop once said, Hill pigeonholed himself to what he thought a point guard should be.

One would need to look no further than Hill’s performances sans a Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker to see the difference in his aggressiveness in their presence. With Ginobili plugged into the starting lineup, the Spurs need Hill to maintain that level of play as the leader off the bench or alongside both of them.

“He needs be to be the Indiana George, the Indiana George that played in high school and college,” Hill said. “In high school and college I’d have 25-point halves, so I should try to relive the dream I guess.”

Hill wasted little time, scoring back-to-back buckets as soon as he entered the game on two perfectly executed sets of cuts and passes from Tim Duncan. His ability to exploit open driving and passing lanes and finish have never been in doubt.

What followed is something new to Hill’s NBA repertoire. With under two minutes remaining in the first quarter Hill created enough space off his dribble twice for a set of back-to-back 3-pointers and then again for a shot from about eight feet out.

Hill capped off the quarter with another new trick he learned, the rip move currently favored by Kevin Durant and made famous by Tim Duncan. With a defenders hand out, Hill swung his arms through the defender, creating contact and earning three free throws.

That’s 11 points in two minutes, a bench happily restored, and all in a day’s work for Indiana George.

  • ITGuy

    If Hill is “Indiana George” and since it looks like HC will be secured, then we need to turn the AT&T center into the Temple of Doom.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    Very optimistic about IG and what he was able to accomplish against the Suns.

    My hope is that the Spurs can dig deep and snag these next 3 games in a row….next week is going to be a bitch. At LA and at Phoenix, they will really need to be on their games for that BTB.

  • DorieStreet

    ‘ “He needs me to be the Indiana George, the Indiana George that played in high school and college,” Hill said.’

    I recall TD=Best EVER said a couple of weeks ago that “IndyG” was “MIA”. Looks like he resurfaced yesterday.
    Another fan had posted that Hill’s subpar performance was a byproduct of Gary Neal’s play the last couple of months, in addition to deferring to the ‘Core 3′.
    Now that he has the green light from Pop, Hill can go full bore when he comes on the court during the playoffs.
    Also–seeing that he has picked up a technique to help him get to the line more–that shows me the guy is seeking to get better after getting accolades last season–makes me want to have him as one of the faces of this franchise going forward.

  • TD = Best EVER

    DorieStreet
    April 4th, 2011 at 9:36 am

    +100

    Hill is back to playing like the Hill that played in Last years playoffs….. And that’s what SA needs. Another player who can get 12-15ppg during the playoffs……With Our big 3 combining for 50-60ppg, we will still need to find 30-40ppg…… Hill and RJ can both help a lot there with Neal pitching in as well…..

  • junierizzle

    I know it was the SUNS but he did look different to me. He’s always been somewhat aggressive but yesterday it was with a purpose. He had a swagger that I haven’t really seen.
    One of the knocks against the SPURS is that only TD, MANU and TP are the only ones that can get their own shot. But if Ghill can keep this up then he would be a great weapon too. Especially off the bench. Just like it was stated yesterday. He can provide the Spark that Manu used to give. I thought he played decent D too. If he can elevate his D as well then go GHILL!

  • cheyenne harty

    Will Indiana George have to play defense against the Black Mamba come playoffs? That would be quite a challenge, considering Indi’s fear of snakes.

  • Mason

    Good to see Hill play great on offense. But then again, it IS against the Suns. Problem with George is he isn’t fast, he isn’t strong, and his passing is sub-par. But that’s just my observation during this whole season.

  • idahospur

    Having Hill or someone be able to lead this team when the 2nd units are in will be huge. Forcing the other team to play their starters to defend Hill will be one of the story lines during Spurs playoff wins. Splitter and Hill could be effective with Neal and Blair in this regard.

  • ITGuy

    “But then again, it IS against the Suns.”

    Of course it is the suns, that’s who they were playing. You can’t beat the celtics if you’re playing the cavs, right?

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • MSteele

    @Mason
    I’ve gotta disagree with you there buddy, George is very quick and he’s quite strong for a point.

    @ITGuy
    I think what he means is we shouldn’t overreact to a good performance against the Suns because they aren’t exactly a great defensive team.

    The Spurs become a much more dangerous team if George stays agressive because he gives them another offensive player to take the pressure off the core three.

  • DieHardSpur

    @mason
    A coast to coast lay-up in 3.5 seconds isn’t fast enough for you? Wrestling rebounds away from guys twice his size isn’t strong enough for you? We are apparently watching two different games…

  • grego

    @MSteele – Hill has shown that he could do it against other teams. The problem is that he dropped off right after he went back to the bench. it’s good to see him showing it from the bench, because he’s been super inconsistent there.

    Pop should adjust the rotations so that he isn’t the ball handler like towards the beginning of the season. Hill is two different players when his goal is to score even if he’s going through a pick and roll.

    @Mason – not fast? What game are you watching? The big difference for Hill at the moment is he doesn’t know how to force contact when he’s in the paint like Manu or especially Parker. That’s pretty much his only downside as far as getting to the hoop.

  • DorieStreet

    Tuesday night’s game maybe the final time this season when the Spurs go all out against a quality opponent- a playoff/ +.500 team.

    Since starters had low minutes Sunday, it will be full rotation minutes @ Hawks.

    Kings: This game is 2nd of BTB; SAC is 6-4 in last 10 games but will be coming off a 1st game BTB @ the Rockets (who will keep winning & get the 8th playoff spot IMO).
    Jazz: 8 straight losses; 4-12 since the end of Feb.-’nuff said.
    Lakers: Assuming Spurs TCB this week (go 3-0), a loss by LA @ the Blazers or vs Thunder will ensure HCA for the Spurs in the west, so the last matchup at Staples will be moot. The Core 3 & McDyess can leave their uniforms in Texas on this last road trip.

  • tradetp…not right now

    Hills shooting and scoring has been down across the board (other than FTs) from last year.

    I would attribute it to defenses noticing him. Last year he was just some guy. This year he was expected to make more gains than he has shown, so the D could just be keying him more.

    ITguy- You must not understand the concept. First, the SUNS are an awful team defensively. Second they run a system that doesnt care about defense. Third, high tempo games always make you look better than you are.

    I love Hill, but Im not jumping for joy until he gets 20+ a few more times against a solid team. On a positive note, getting scoring like that from your bench is HUGE coming at the end of the year.

    Lets get Neal a couple 20 pointers along with Hill as well.

  • Pingback: The Point Forward » Posts Court Vision: The latest around the league «

  • Dr. Leonard McCoy

    Yesterday’s game is just what the doctor ordered for this team! I believe it was Jon Barry who said something like this. He basically said that Sunday’s win against the Suns REALLY didn’t FIX the Spurs’ problem of why they have been loosing lately. That Spurs fans in “Alamo Land” shouldn’t be jumping for joy over this win. Now granted, that win gave us all a sigh of relief, especially with that “golden Nuggets gift” we got from Denver! WOO HOO! Hopefully, this win will also establish confidence back into this Team. Yesterday, as I had a bit of an opportunity to watch the game, I believe that it was somewhere in the late first quarter, & into the 2nd quarter, I saw the line-up of Indy George, G-Neal, Red Rocket, T-Splitt & I think that Mr. Anderson as well. This seemed to be a working line-up for the Spurs, both offensivly & defensivly. The bottom line is this. This unit seem to work well. I think Hill needs to REALLY play the two in order to make him a more effective player who can concentrate on his scoring & his defense. For Hill, it’s like trying to substitue for a co-worker in a different area who has a job that’s simular to yours, but he does some things you seldom do unless you do his job. So doing those things are not as fluid for you because you learned it on the fly. I think it’s the same with Hill playing the point. He can do it, but I think that he would benefit this team MUCH better at the two. Perhaps on another team as a starter at the two, he could score in double figures nightly, perhaps. It would be nice to have TP or Manu out on the floor during stretches of the game to run the point so He ccould concentrate on his natural position. I also personally believe that this team has short changed itself by not having a good natural point guard as a backup, although while we may have the “Mighty Quinn,” but we also see Pop not utilizing him as a backup, but as a bench warmer instead. Hmmm. Any who, GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Bentley

    I really don’t care if its against the Suns or any other bad defensive team. People don’t realize how hard it is in an NBA game to go out and score 24 points in 13 minutes of play. All the credit goes to George Hill here, he was phenomenal.

    I could easily get used to him scoring 15+ a game on the regular.

  • Tim in Surrey

    This is slightly off topic, but I wanted to give a shout-out to the A-Train. It was announced today that Artis Gilmore was voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. I couldn’t be more pleased. Artis was a truly great player who has nevertheless been woefully underrated, probably because he spent so much of his career in the ABA and then playing for some mediocre Bulls squads. By the time he joined the Spurs his best years were behind him, yet he’s still easily the second-best center in Spurs history, after David Robinson. He is also a truly classy guy, on- and off-court. Well done, Artis!

  • betsyduncan

    Pop’s ‘favorite player’ played lights out! He needs to keep it up for 21 more games!

  • hassan

    It’s good to see G.Hill playing aggressively…that’s what he needs to do a lot as POP like’s him defensively and plays him a lot so he needs to score when on the court so he is not an offensive liability and standing at the top of key and looking for Manu/TP or an open 3-point shooter. He is also only 6’2″ and POP should reduce the 3-guard line up as opponents shoot on top of them. Even though Hill played well but Dudley, Hill and Carter shot easily over him.

    I have always wanted G.Hill/Manu & Neal to shoot more 2-pointers off the dribble after a screen with the bigs…. we don’t do this enough and always are looking for the 3-pointer so we keep dribbling around esp G.Hill…..

  • TD = Best EVER

    hassan
    April 4th, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    “He is also only 6’2″ and POP should reduce the 3-guard line up as opponents shoot on top of them. Even though Hill played well but Dudley, Hill and Carter shot easily over him.

    I have always wanted G.Hill/Manu & Neal to shoot more 2-pointers off the dribble after a screen with the bigs…. we don’t do this enough and always are looking for the 3-pointer so we keep dribbling around esp G.Hill…..”

    +100 I agree that POP has to stop the Indy G defensive stopper on the much bigger guards….. They just take him in to the post and score with ease….. I think Hill can guards most 1/2 and should never really be asked to guard the SF’s on the NBA…….

    And as far as shooting more 2’s…… I would love to see Neal of a pick 2-3 times a game…. we need to shoot higher percentage shots and when we can’t get layups and don’t have a good post game working, these high percentage 2’s would be awesome

  • rob

    @grego

    “Pop should adjust the rotations so that he isn’t the ball handler like towards the beginning of the season. Hill is two different players when his goal is to score even if he’s going through a pick and roll.”

    Excellent point and one that I don’t buy when Pop eluded to this…”The reeling-in of Hill’s scoring instincts was never by design, according to Popovich. Tagged with the label backup point guard, Pop once said, Hill pigeonholed himself to what he thought a point guard should be.”

    I do think the plan was to make him become a “prototypical” PG and after realizing he only hurt the team/himself by trying did they give him the green light to do what he does best.

    @TD=BE

    “And as far as shooting more 2′s…… I would love to see Neal of a pick 2-3 times a game…. we need to shoot higher percentage shots and when we can’t get layups and don’t have a good post game working, these high percentage 2′s would be awesome”

    Completely agree. The Spurs offense tends to harness the majority of offensive efforts with it’s perimeter players by either driving the lane or shooting the 3. Seldom used in it’s arsenal of some very good shooters on this team is exactly what you described.

    Great point. Hope to see it used more in the playoffs.

  • Brian Robinson

    Coach Robinson here,

    I had the pleasure of coaching George his Jr. & Sr. year in HS.

    George has always had the ability to do it all, offensively & defensively.

    What I have observed from attending the 3/27 Memphis game & watching the Suns game is that George appeared more effective when he has the ball up top & TP is in the corner. Another facet of IG’s game is that he has excellent low post moves.

    Go Spurs!

  • Pingback: George Hill and the Green Light - NYTimes.com

  • Pingback: George Hill Moves On, Moves Home - NYTimes.com