Game 2 between the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers was supposed to be about adjustments and the interplay between Chris Bosh and Roy Hibbert. Instead, it boiled down to a good old-fashioned battle of jaw-dropping plays between LeBron James and Paul George.
And really, nobody's mad about that.
Paul George kicked off the highlight bonanza late in the third quarter with a vicious slam on Chris Andersen. George drove hard to his left, came to a two-foot plant and soared right over the top of the Birdman, cramming home a wicked righty spike.
He let out a guttural yell upon landing, which, when translated, actually sounded an awful lot like "I am Paul George, and I have arrived."
Everybody enjoyed the play. Well, except for Andersen.
BIRDSLAM BIRDSLAM— netw3rk (@netw3rk) May 25, 2013
Others were more brief in their analysis of the monstrous dunk.
So Nasty.— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) May 25, 2013
Mere seconds later, James fired right back, ending the third quarter with a long bomb that conjured up recent memories of George's own 30-footer from Game 1.
It was an incredible exchange, reminiscent of the extremely high level of play in this series. Make no mistake, George and James are in line for plenty more battles in the coming seasons. And that's a pretty exciting proposition.
LeBron James vs. Paul George is pretty great, you guys.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) May 25, 2013
Best of all, these guys respect one another. It had to have been hard amidst an incredibly testy series, but James and George actually exchanged an appreciative low five after LBJ buried his quarter-closing triple.
LeBron gives George the five after both with fantastic plays at end of 3Q. These guys going to be doing this for years to come.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) May 25, 2013
Highlight plays and great sportsmanship don't often coexist like this.
Getting back to the action, the eye-popping plays started before the marquee exchange that ended the third quarter. Earlier in the game, James converted a breathtaking reverse dunk.
At the time, it was the game's best highlight. Little did we know there'd be so much more to come.
THE NBA IS FREAKING AWESOME— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) May 25, 2013
And shortly after that, George snared a lob from Lance Stephenson and thundered home a powerful dunk.
The final moments of Game 2 weren't quite enthralling as the end of Game 1. In the series opener, James and George also traded highlights down to the wire. This time around, James coughed up the ball on two critical possessions to end the contest.
Still, the enduring images from this game will definitely be the amazing individual plays from James and George in that epic third quarter.