Heat notebook

Indiana Pacers’ Paul George edges Miami Heat’s LeBron James for Player of the Month award

Miami Heat forward LeBron James directs his team as Indiana Pacers forward Paul George looks on during the first quarter of Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on June 3, 2013.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James directs his team as Indiana Pacers forward Paul George looks on during the first quarter of Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on June 3, 2013.
Al Diaz / Staff Photo


LeBron James shot 61 percent, averaged 26.9 points, six rebounds, 5.9 assists and played roughly 21/2 minutes less a game than his career average in the month of November.

He won the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award twice.

Apparently that still wasn’t enough for the league's three-time MVP to earn the Eastern Conference's Player of the Month award. Indiana’s Paul George took home that honor Tuesday after leading the Pacers to a league-best 15-1 record in November.

George ranked fifth in the league in scoring (23.6) and was tied for seventh in steals (2.13) while adding 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the first month of action.

James won the award five of the six times it was handed out last season. It’s the first time George has won the honor.

East is dangerous

The Heat and Pacers began the night Tuesday as the only teams in the East with records above .500.

Despite that, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra contends the conference is dangerous.

“The thing about the East that I think people are missing is the youth of the conference,” Spoelstra said. “You can’t write those teams off. Washington all of a sudden is .500 for the first time in four or five years. There’s a handful of young teams that have great potential that are going to have to figure it out, work their way through it. I've likened to it to what our first [year] was like when [ Udonis Haslem] and [ Dwyane] Wade were rookies.

“We weren't .500 until All-Star Break, until around that time of year and then we took off. But that team kept on getting better and it’s hard to evaluate teams with that much youth because there is a lot of room for growth. By the time we got to the end of that season we were one of the toughest outs in the league.

“From that standpoint the Eastern Conference is still very dangerous and the unknown is probably the most dangerous part about it.”

Happy Devil

Heat forward Shane Battier said Tuesday he couldn't be happier seeing Duke, his alma mater, win the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title last Saturday.

“I never thought I'd see the day to be honest with you,” Battier said. “We had so much futility. My four years were really unproductive. To say we’re champions of a football league — that's unbelievable. I'm just so happy for Coach [ David] Cutcliffe and the guys to show so much heart and go undefeated on the road. I don’t care who you play. To go undefeated on the road in conference play is tremendously difficult to do.

“I know people aren’t giving us a chance against Florida State [in the ACC title game]. But this season is way bigger than one game against Florida State.”

So is Battier giving University of Miami grad James Jones a hard time about it?

“I didn't have to. He felt badly enough,” Battier said. “Miami had their own issues this year. I didn’t want to have to dump on him. We’ve had futility long enough [at Duke] where I'm just happy for my guys. I'm not ready to pile on other teams. Except [Heat assistant coach Bob] McAdoo [a North Carolina grad]. He owes me $20 from this past weekend.”

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