Spurs' Kawhi Leonard locks down Paul George

SAN ANTONIO -- Even a bucket per quarter proved too elusive for Paul George under the lockdown defense of San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.

Coming off his seventh double-double of the season, George entered Monday's contest averaging 26.2 points with a field-goal percentage of 43.4. By the time San Antonio concluded its 106-92 thrashing of the Pacers with Leonard guarding George, the Pacers forward's stat line read like this: 1-of-14 from the field, seven points, six assists.

Leonard, meanwhile, poured in a game-high 24 points to go with five assists and three steals.

"I just try to go out there and do the best job I can, try not to give him the space," Leonard said. "He missed some wide-open ones out there tonight. But that's what I do: just hope that he misses."

George certainly did that, with his lone field goal of the night coming in the first quarter from 3-point range.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich joked that Leonard's performance was "pretty ordinary," before changing course.

"He did a great job on a great player," Popovich said. "That's all you can say. He did a fantastic job on a great player."

The reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard came into Monday's game ranked 10th in steals. Offensively he ranked No. 1 in 3-point percentage, and in the top 20 in scoring, field goal percentage and free-throw percentage.

Leonard did the majority of his damage with George guarding him, hitting 10 of 19 shot. On the other end, Leonard received some credit for his job against George. But George uncharacteristically missed some shots he usually makes and Leonard received help defending the forward from San Antonio's big men in the paint: Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge.

"I had a lot of good looks, a lot of open looks, a lot of shots I've made all season long," George said. "It just wasn't my night. I couldn't get it to fall."

George called Leonard "a fun matchup" that forces him to "look at it like a game within a game."

"I get more out of guys and have more respect for guys that enjoy playing both sides of the ball," George said of Leonard.

Leonard's feats on the defensive end combined with his improvements on offense push the forward into the MVP conversation, and at the least the fifth-year veteran should be eyeing his first All-Star appearance.

To Leonard's teammates, the way he's playing is no longer surprising.

"No, at this point, it's not a surprise," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "[It's] a confirmation, every game what he's bringing to the team on both ends; incredible moment for him. He translates into our record too because he's a big part of what we do on both ends of the floor. Kawhi playing at this level, I don't know what he's averaging, [but he's] keeping opponents, high-volume shooters and scorers, way under their average. So that's a big advantage we've got. Kawhi was outstanding again. Paul George is one of the best scorers in the league, and he contained him, made him take tough shots."

Added point guard Tony Parker: "Obviously, the whole team was focused on Paul George, one of the best scorers in the league. Everybody did a good job, Kawhi especially. He did great tonight."

As for Leonard, the approach remains unchanged. Prior to tipoff, the NBA announced it had named Leonard the Western Conference Player of the Week. The forward "didn't even know I won until I came to the arena."

"I just take [all the accolades] as a distraction, because that's not what I'm trying to win," Leonard said. "But it is a good mark to see that I am doing the right things on the floor. I don't think it was that important to me if I won it or not. I still wanted to come out and play a good game tonight."