George Hill gets 30 and satisfying win over Pacers in first meeting since being dealt

The Jazz are 14-1 this season when George Hill and Gordon Hayward play.

George Hill took it personal when the Pacers, his hometown team, pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Hill to Utah in exchange for Atlanta’s Jeff Teague, who’s two years younger.

Hill played for the Pacers for five seasons (2011-16). He felt he did what he was asked, and that he had given everything he could to the franchise … and then some. But he understands it’s a business, as cruel as it can be.

So when the NBA schedule was released in August, George surely looked for several dates right away.

  1. When he first faces his previous team (Jan. 21).
  2. When he returns to Indy (Mar. 20).
  3. When they play San Antonio, his first team as a pro (Nov. 1, Nov. 4, Apr. 2, Apr. 12).

From July: Hill discusses being traded, his relationship with Hayward and Lyles, and death to The Blonde Faze

So before Hill played the Pacers for the first time since being dealt, I admittedly laughed when I saw where George told a local Jazz beat reporter that this was just another game. Sure, that’s his public stance.

Behind the scenes — and Hill is a private person — he was motivated for this one.

Hill, 30, came up big for the Utah Jazz (29-16) in their sixth consecutive win, 109-100 over the Pacers (22-21). He turned in his best performance of the season with a season-high 30 points, six rebounds, and five assists in 34 minutes.

He was patient with the ball, used screens to his advantage, attacked on the dribble, attracted defenders, and then made the right pass to a post player. He protected the ball, only turning it over one time. And he was reliable from range, hitting three of his five 3-point attempts.

The Jazz are now 10-0 when he scores at least 20 points.

Immediately following the game, the Broad Ripple High School and IUPUI product talked with several former Pacers teammates and coaches out on the floor.

[Hill carries permanent reminders of Indy wherever he goes]

Both Indy starters, Hill and Gordon Hayward, were bothered by injuries early. Hill was absent for 24 games, Hayward for seven. The Jazz improved to 14-1 this season when they both play. And they may soon pass the injury-riddled L.A. Clippers to move into fourth in the Western Conference standings.

Hill, who’s notably in a contract year, has had a great first half of the season — injuries aside. He is averaging 17.9 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game. And, as the stats above point out, he has made a big difference when in uniform.

Hill’s closest friends during his time with the Pacers were Ian Mahinmi, who signed with the Washington Wizards in the offseason, and former neighbor Paul George. (PG fouled out Saturday, and was ejected for something he said to the officials.)

Former leaders of the G2 Zone connect prior to the game. [@brittanydiehl]

“We were close. We were really, really close,” Paul George told VigilantSports.com. “That’s my brother. That’s my brother for life.

“I talk to George a lot. We’ve talked a lot over the last month, going back and forth. I just keep a tab on a lot of guys I’ve played with — but George in particular. I’ve been motivating him, really, to continue on playing the way he has been playing. I’d love to see him get paid.”

As long as he stays injury-free…

“Yeah, man. I told him that, too. It’s the most I’ve seen him injured. And I know they are serious injuries. GHill usually plays and battled through a lot of nicks and bruises. So for him to sit so many games this year, I know it’s been serious. I’ve been trying to keep his head level because he doesn’t like sitting out.”

This summer, he is due for what should be his largest (and last) big contract. This is year five of a five-year, $40 million deal he signed with the Pacers in 2012.

[Hill discusses fatherhood: ‘I have more to play for now’]

Hill has thrived in Utah, and Teague has settling in back home in Indy, averaging 15.6 points, 8.0 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game. The trade has seemingly worked out well for both teams, each hoping to re-sign their point guard come July.

But don’t think for a minute Hill has gotten over it, and that this was just another game.

[Hill’s love for Indy hasn’t changed]

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