Tales from the Block: The Return of Paul George

Tales from the Block: Welcome to Turners Block. In this column, I’ll try to bring a look at the games from inside the craziest, loudest bunch of fans in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse along with the Born Ready Crew. Pardon my absence these last few weeks. I was saving up for this game.

Admit it. When you looked at the schedule to start the season, the first game you looked for was that OKC game against Paul George (who for the rest of this article be referred to as Agent 13). Thankfully it was early in the season.

Personally, I was concerned I had hyped the game up too much in my head coming into it, much like this upcoming Star Wars movie. There’s no way it can be this much fun, right? Well no matter what you decided to do to greet Agent 13’s return to TWGBA, the atmosphere most definitely lived up to the hype. The product on the floor, maybe not so much.

I have not heard the stadium that consistently loud since the Miami Heat playoff days. The sellout crowd (first of the season) was especially loud in the 4th quarter when the Pacers cut the lead to just two after making yet another rally. My voice is not thanking me today because of it.

The media, both national and local, felt the fans should be appreciative of Agent 13’s time here in Indiana. Maybe give him a standing ovation or a video tribute. Ya right. That didn’t happen. Pacers don’t do that for former players.

Thunder media noticed a video that includes past Pacers players but not George. This wasn’t a controversial or petty move by the Pacers; it’s just the same video they’ve played before every Pacers home game that doesn’t include any active former Pacers.

The fans (myself included) boo’d Agent 13 every time he touched the ball. Check into the game, boooo. Make a pass, booooo. Pull up from 3, booooo. Chants rained down of ‘We Don’t Miss You’ (Turners Block) . And I know it’s petty, but man did it feel good.

It’s been discussed at nauseam on many Pacers sites but to me personally, it comes down to what he says/said. Things he knows the fans want to hear but he obviously doesn’t really believe them himself. The Corner 3 Show had a whole episode dedicated to Agent 13 (check it out on YouTube or Podcast sites). “I want to do what Reggie never did and bring a championship to Indiana,” “I’m a Pacer,” etc., etc. Then the leak of wanting to be traded, which if you believe it or not, no doubt torpedoed his trade value.

Why does that hit fans so much? It feels like a slight on the city and by extension, the fans. “Oh, we aren’t good enough for you? Have to go to a big market in LA?”

Now I get it. Indiana wasn’t his thing, fine. He maybe did have the right idea on trying to get Indiana something for him instead of having the Kevin Durant/Gordon Hayward effect on the team that drafted him. True, but then don’t say all those things about how great Indiana is and don’t LEAK TO THE MEDIA YOU WANT A TRADE TO ONLY THE LAKERS.

Ahem.

Where was I?

One thing I found surprising last night was Agent 13 let the fans get to him. He was 3-14 from the floor and just looked hesitant all night. It was almost like he didn’t want the ball in his hands at some points so he wouldn’t have to listen to the boos. “Save me, Russ and Melo!” Fine by me. It made the game where the Pacers were getting beat fun to watch.

On the flip side. Indy’s new son, Victor Oladipo, let it get to him too. 9-26 from the floor and settling for contested shots all night. Shame. Combo of him wanting to prove something on national television and having his toughest challenge in a defender this year.

But, it was two other things unrelated to Agent 13 that truly decided the game. Foul discrepancy and rebounding. The Thunder were called for 12 fouls. The Pacers 21. The Thunder attempted 24 Free Throws to the Pacers 6. The Thunder had 52 rebounds to Indiana’s 42. Steven Adams a large part of that. He was a monster in the post. Getting rebounds over whoever was guarding him all night long.

Myles Turner still needs to get stronger to keep those guys off the boards consistently. And the guards got to help him with gang rebounds in the mean time. Adams got 7 offensive boards against a Myles-less Pacers lineup in the first matchup between the teams, so it’s not just a Myles problem. It’s a Pacers problem.

This is a young team still learning, still growing, and already exceeding expectations. The Pacers took home the L last night but you have got to be excited with a 4-1 home stand with a chance to go to 5-1 with a 5th spot in the current conference standings. This was a team most expected to not even make the playoffs let alone be fun to watch. *cough Zach Lowe’s NBA League Pass teams cough* They will learn from this and improve. The core of this team are all in their mid to early 20s. Impressive start for this group.

All and all, I’m glad the return game is over with. We can move on from Agent 13 with this young bright future core. Technically we have him to thank. Thanks for the seven years here and for asking for a trade instead of making us suffer through all the speculation again during year eight just for you to leave. The Eastern Conference finals runs. Maybe fans can stop hating on Agent 13 now and we can watch from afar as he does to OKC what he did to Indianapolis. I mean Agent 13 is moving on too right? He wouldn’t be petty.

Never mind. Back to booing when we see him in a Lakers jersey next year.

Best moments from Turner’s Block:

Carmelo Anthony actually laughed while we chanted “Honey Nut Cheerios” as he went to the foul line.

There were many chants fans wanted to make but were shot down by Turner’s Block to keep it family friendly. I can’t remember them all.

Great costumes: I stand next to IronPacer and a guy (@Reggie_for_3) stands in front of me in his glorious yellow sequin jacket. One fan made a Benedict Arnold Agent 13 poster. Guy at the end of my row had printed off the Agent 13 gatorade commercial ‘ballgame’ scene and put Victor Oladipo overtop Agent 13.

Quite a few PG-24 shirts/jerseys converted to Oladipo 4 or PG 13 converted to Sabonis.

Here’s me. On to the next one.

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