BOSTON — How is this for consistency?
On Nov. 4, Paul George scored 26 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out three assists as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics in Indianapolis.
Exactly one week leader, the star forward, who is back from a horrific broken leg sustained prior to last season, put up the exact same numbers against Boston — the Pacers emerging with a 102-91 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday.
Consistent? George is averaging a tad over 30 points over the past four games.
Safe to say he is back.
“He’s been fantastic,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said after George scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half — and seemed to make every big shot in the game. “What nobody’s talking about is his defense. He’s putting up some big numbers offensively, but every time we put him up on a top guy, that guy just gets cooled down very quickly.
“That’s why he’s one of the best two-way players in the NBA. He’s showing that he’s back.”
George scored nine consecutive Indiana points in a 1:20 span of the third quarter. He also nailed back-to-back shots with the Pacers ahead by three midway through the fourth quarter.
“There’s a reason Paul George is Paul George,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I think that that’s a great credit to him. He gets every most difficult assignment, he scores twice in the post, and you change matchups and try somebody else, and then he scores again and you change it again.”
Asked if he thinks he is all the way recovered, George said, “My skill set, everything’s been there. I’ve been working out the whole time. Just a year away from the game, I was able to rehab and really just focus on myself. But I’m still trying to gain some of it back physically — not all the way there.”
Forward C.J. Miles added 17 points and five rebounds, and guard Monta Ellis had 13 points, six assists and four steals for the Pacers (5-4).
Guard Evan Turner, a onetime Pacer, scored a team-high 20 points for the Celtics (3-4). Guard Isaiah Thomas added 14, forward David Lee came off the bench to contribute 13 points and six rebounds, and forward Jared Sullinger had 11 points and 11 boards.
The Pacers spent Tuesday night relaxing in their Boston hotel rooms while the Celtics were winning in Milwaukee.
Indiana, which missed 11 of its 31 free throws in a 54-foul game, built a 10-point, first-half lead that quickly evaporated. The Pacers led by two at the break after the Celtics went on a 26-16 run to tie it. George hit last-second baskets to end each of the first two quarters and then hit two free throws with two seconds left in the third.
Turner, who led Boston’s third-quarter assault that was key to the win in Milwaukee, scored the first six points of the second half Wednesday as Boston came out of halftime with an 11-2 run to take a seven-point lead. That was when George took over to bring his team back.
“It’s a credit to him. He’s come back as good as he’s left,” Stevens said. “This is a good team. I think Indiana’s good, and I think they’ve got one of the best players in the NBA, and they’ve got another guy that’s a closer in the NBA in Ellis. So I’m not surprised that this is a good team that’s giving us fits. I think they’re going to give a lot of people fits.”
The Celtics had one field goal in the last 9:40 of the third quarter. They shot 13-for-19 from the foul line over the final 7:07 of the third, then went cold in the game’s closing minutes.
NOTES: Celtics G Marcus Smart returned after a three-game absence caused by a sprained toe, but fellow G Avery Bradley was out with a leg injury sustained in Tuesday night’s win in Milwaukee. Bradley was kicked in the calf. “I don’t think it’s an incredibly long-term thing,” coach Brad Stevens said. Smart looked rusty and had eight points in 21 minutes, going 1-for-6 from the floor. … Indiana coach Frank Vogel, on whether he gives advice to his friend and younger counterpart Stevens: “It’s more the other way around. I would pick his brain — he’s counseling me on stuff. I just tell him what restaurants to eat at on the road and what the travel arrangements are like. When it comes to basketball, I’m always deferring to him.” … Wednesday was Seats for Soldiers Night at TD Garden, with fans donating tickets to service personnel. There was a Veterans Day moment of silence before the game.