George: 'Just letting the game come to me'

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George: 'Just letting the game come to me'

BOSTON Even before the Indiana Pacers learned they would be without Danny Granger for a while, Paul George had his mind made up that he would be "the next big thing" this season.

But the pressure to perform that George was putting on himself coupled with Granger's absence, threw the 6-foot-8 wing in a bit of a funk to start the season.

"Early on, I was trying to force it so much to where now it's coming to me, playing through the team and just building habits preparing for games," George told CSNNE.com. "So now I'm just letting the game come to me which is different from the beginning of the year."

And that difference has been huge for both George and the Pacers who come into tonight's game against the Boston Celtics having won eight of their last 10 games.

"The last month or so, he's playing at an all-star level," said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. "All year he has been one of the best defensive wings in the NBA, and on the offensive end he has really picked up his assertiveness and shot-making."

George's success stems from his versatility that poses matchup problems on a nightly basis.

With his size and length, most shooting guards are too small to guard him while small forwards don't have his level of athleticism or ball-handling skills.

Add it all up and it's clear to see why the absence of Granger hasn't been nearly as painful as the loss of a leading scorer would be to a lot of teams.

"He opens up the floor a lot and gives us a lot of different looks that we can do," said Pacers guard George Hill. "He's something like Danny Granger, but a lot more athletic. So when we do that, it gives us a great opportunity to spread the floor and do multiple things."

Earlier this season, George was named the Eastern Conference player of the week of Dec. 10-16. During that span, the Pacers were 3-0 while George averaged 23.3 points, 7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.3 blocks in addition to connecting on 47.4 percent of his 3s during that span.

Every breakout season tends to have a turning point of some sort.

For George, that would have been Indiana's loss at Golden State on Dec. 1 when he was scoreless while missing all seven of his shots from the field.

After that, George made it up in his mind that whatever he had been doing on the day of games to prepare, had to be changed.

So for their next game against Chicago, George lifted weights the day of the game in addition to getting up 500 shots before hand.

Indiana won 86-80 and George had a then-season high 34 points. That was followed by a 22-point, 8-rebound game which was followed by a 22-point, 6-rebound, 6-assist night.

George said he rarely lifted on game days and didn't take anything close to 500 shots leading up to tip-off.

"I had this thought in my mind that lifting on game days would make me tired or something," George said. "But I tried it out and I actually felt I was ready; my body just felt great. It wasn't a strain on my body at all."

And as far as the 500 shots, George said, "I never shot 500 shots. I thought that would have gotten me tired as well, shooting 500 shots before a game. But my body just felt relaxed. and when I got on the court, it felt I took those shots so many times that if I shot that shot, it was going to go in."

Having had success at both ends of the floor this season has only fueled George's confidence.

"That's how the all-star's make their mark; being confident and being a floor leader on the floor," George said. "That comes with the territory. You have to make the plays, make the baskets. if you're not ready to make the baskets, you really don't have the confidence to even be on the floor. Confidence goes with everything when you want to be the guy."

And there's little doubt that George believes he is indeed capable of being a go-to player.

But he respects what Granger has done for the franchise, and knows that things will change once Granger, an all-star, returns to the lineup.

"It's in the back of my mind," George admitted. "He's an all-star player and it's really ... I have to keep the mindset the same but know that it's another all-star back in our lineup. I think we'll be able to play great together."

George added, "I think we'll be able to coincide. I got the confidence now to make plays and I think it'll help Danny out. You don't want to help off Danny because he can shoot the ball so well. If my shot attempts and my scoring aren't up, my assists will be up."

And that will bring him even closer to being a first-time all-star at next month's All-Star game in Houston.

George isn't quite ready to announce himself as being on that level just yet.

"Be honest, I only played one good month," he said. "So I still got some time. I think if I continue on this path, I'm playing at an all-star level."

Hernandez's fiancee: I learned to keep my mouth shut and not ask any questions

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Hernandez's fiancee: I learned to keep my mouth shut and not ask any questions

BOSTON -- Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's fiancee testified in his double-murder trial Thursday that she learned to keep her mouth shut and "not to ask any questions" in certain situations.

Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez testified against Hernandez under a grant of immunity from prosecutors. She and Hernandez have a 4-year-old daughter. She said she took Hernandez's last name in 2015.

Hernandez is accused of fatally shooting two men in Boston in July 2012 after an encounter at a Boston nightclub. He is also charged with witness intimidation in the shooting of Alexander Bradley, allegedly to silence him about the killings.

Jenkins-Hernandez repeatedly said she could not recall details about conversations with Hernandez after the 2012 killings and after Bradley's shooting in 2013.

She said she didn't ask Hernandez for details about Bradley's shooting, even though Hernandez and Bradley were close friends.

"[Bradley] was not my friend . . . Yes, it's a sad situation [but] why should I press about something like that?" she said.

Jenkins-Hernandez also said she did not recall getting a call from Hernandez at 2:37 a.m. on July 16, 2012, minutes after prosecutors say Hernandez shot Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado as they sat in a car at a stop light in Boston. Prosecutors said phone records show a 17-second call from Hernandez to her at that time.

Hernandez has denied shooting the men. His lawyer told the jury during opening statements that Bradley shot the men over a drug deal.

Bradley testified he saw Hernandez shoot the men. He also said Hernandez shot him in the face months later after he made a remark about the Boston shootings.

Hernandez is already serving a life sentence after being convicted in the 2013 killing of a man who was dating the sister of Jenkins-Hernandez.

Leon Powe talks about '08 Celtics, reunion with Ray Allen

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Leon Powe talks about '08 Celtics, reunion with Ray Allen

In this week's jam packed episode of CSNNE.com's "Celtics Talk Podcast", Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely talk with former Celtic Leon Powe about this year's team, plus his role on the 2008 Championship squad. Powe tells some great stories about Kevin Garnett, and has an interesting take on Ray Allen not being invited to the reunion vacation Rajon Rondo is planning.

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Also included in this week's episode, Brian Scalabrine's interview with head coach Brad Stevens, plus the "Celtics PostUp" crew talks with Jae Crowder about his many nicknames, whether the 1st seed in the East is important, and his improvement on the floor.