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Coming off arguably the worst game of his brief tenure in Cleveland, which numbered exactly five so-so performances after Sunday’s egg-laying against the San Antonio Spurs, George Hill listened.
And then he went out and did exactly what he was urged and encouraged to do, helping the Cavaliers (36-24) to a 129-123 conquest of the Brooklyn Nets at Quicken Loans Arena.
Hill had just two points, and made only one of seven shots in a 110-94 loss to San Antonio.
At the urging of his new teammates, along with a pregame conversation with coach Tyronn Lue, Hill went out and played like the guy the Cavaliers were expecting when they traded for him Feb. 8, scoring 26 points and adding three rebounds, five assists and three steals in 37 minutes.
NBA JAM rules.
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) February 28, 2018
Hill shot 9-of-17, including 3-of-4 from the 3-point line, in playing his best game as a Cavalier, to date. His shooting performance was the first time he’s shot better than break-even since being acquired from the Sacramento Kings.
“My teammates, coaches saying to stay aggressive and take my shots and just trying to find that rhythm and that balance,” Hill said. But it was a need-to-win situation. Bron (LeBron James) has been talking about, ‘Let’s not be that team that loses two games in a row,’ and things like that. We took that into consideration.”
With Brooklyn (20-42) playing its “drop” defense, which has a defender playing below the free-throw line, the midrange shot was there, which is part of what Lue discussed with his new starting point guard before tipoff.
“We were talking about it before the game. You gotta be able to come off, be aggressive, shoot your pullup jumpshot,” Lue said. “I thought that set a tone for us early. Him getting to his pocket, shooting that pullup jumpshot and opening the game up for us. We need him to be aggressive on pick-and-rolls, getting downhill and making the right play.”
Hill, 31, regarded as a terrific pick-and-roll player, had not shown much of it as he and the other members of The New 4 — Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. — attempted to acclimate themselves into Cleveland’s offensive and defensive systems.
“It was definitely something we worked on in shootaround today,” Hill said of the pick-and-roll sets. “Getting a better base when I come off (the screen) and being able to take that shot. Seeing a couple go in and you start to feel a little better and things like that.”
Hill believes better things are indeed ahead. After making just 3-of-19 from from 3 before Tuesday night, the 3-of-4 performance from deep against Brooklyn was a welcome sight.
“Just let the game come to you,” he said. “Take your shots and do what you’re supposed to do. But put more focus and emphasis on the defensive end and let the offense take care of itself.”