NBA Coast to Coast: Paul George close to return, but 'not ready yet'

NBA Coast to Coast: News, notes and quotes from around the league

Paul George is putting this weekend's comeback plan on ice. The concept of returning later this season is still heating up.

Indiana's two-time All-Star told reporters that he's much closer to playing now than when he returned to full practices two weeks ago, his most strenuous work since running into a basket stanchion and gruesomely snapping his right leg in two places Aug. 1 in Las Vegas.

“The Paul George today blows away the Paul George from then,” he said. “The reason the Paul George now would blow out the Paul George of two or three weeks ago is because I can move a lot better.”

But that doesn't mean he's in playing shape yet.

George targeted mid-March as a possible return date and even suggested Saturday's home game against Boston or Monday's home game against Toronto would be ideal. That's not going to happen.

Coach Frank Vogel said the delay was not the result of a setback. “He's not ready yet, but when he is, we'll let you know,” Vogel said.

There's no reason for the Pacers (30-34) to rush George back.Since Feb. 1, Indiana is a league-best 13-2 and has gone from 15 games under .500 to the No. 7 spot in the East. After winning seven in a row, the Pacers trail Milwaukee just 3 1 2 games for the No. 6 spot.

Some fans around Indianapolis contend the Pacers are actually playing better now, without George, than they were at this time last year. Indiana wound up losing in the Eastern Conference finals for the second consecutive season. George doesn't want to do anything that would mess up the chemistry or rotation -- something that could threaten his hopes of a return this season.

“I think if it gets to the point that these guys are in the playoffs and we're talking about coming back, we might as well let these guys finish that out,” George said.

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Portland Trail Blazers center Joel Freeland and Detroit Pistons forward Shawne Williams were suspended one game without pay by the NBA on Saturday for head-butting each other.

The incident occurred with 1:15 left in the Trail Blazers' 118-99 home victory Friday night. Williams sat out Saturday night in Utah, and Freeland will serve his suspension Sunday in Toronto.

--Associated Press

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

Try harder

Amar'e Stoudemire may have just joined Dallas, but the backup center/forward had no problems ripping his Mavericks teammates after a 33-point shellacking by Cleveland. "We can't cheat the game. We can't screw around in games and practices and joke around all the time and figure we're going to win games. This is the pros. It's the highest level of basketball. We've got to act that way."

Trash-talking kings

Oklahoma City's Steven Adams has encountered a few expert trash talkers during his short NBA career, but the Thunder center said no other NBA players top Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. "KG and [Perkins], those two are ridiculous," Adams said. "They make you question, like, why you are playing basketball and stuff. You're like, 'Why am I doing this?' It's really weird. You get depressed."

No respect

Washington's John Wall took exception when Memphis sat four of its top players for rest during a game the Wizards won by 20 points. "They sit 'em, and I don't know why. I think we're a team that's on the rise, and teams respect us now," Wall said. "We didn't want to come out here and lose to their reserves."

—Broderick Turner

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