Central Notes: George, Dunleavy, Baynes

Paul George is feeling fatigued after playing heavy minutes during the first half of the season and Pacers coach Frank Vogel is mulling a reduction in minutes for his star small forward, according to Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star. George acknowledged to Taylor on Monday that he’s struggling to maintain his optimal performance level because his legs are weary. “I think a lot of it is just being overly confident that I can go out and still do the things I was doing [earlier in the season],” George said. “It’s not the case. It’s hard and it’s weighing on me right now, it’s weighing on my body, it’s weighting on my mental [approach].” George has played at least 30 minutes in every game this month except for one game when he was in foul trouble, Taylor points out. Vogel has rested George in a couple of recent practices and will monitor his minutes during the team’s upcoming homestand, Taylor adds. “It’s definitely something that’s limiting him right now and limiting us and we’ve got to keep a close eye on it,” Vogel told Taylor about George’s energy level.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Bulls small forward Mike Dunleavy is targeting a February return from the back injury that has kept him out all season, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reports. Dunleavy will participate in a controlled contact scrimmage Tuesday after joining the team in non-contact practices for weeks, Johnson adds. Dunleavy, who signed a three-year, $14.5MM contract last summer with the final year non-guaranteed, was originally slated to return in mid-December from his offseason surgery until he suffered a setback during his rehab. “The main thing is staying on top of the exercises and the maintenance stuff I’ve got to do for my back,” Dunleavy told Johnson. “I’m not really thinking, ‘Oh, man, is this thing going to go on me?’ I’m comfortable and confident.”
  • One of the underrated aspects of Aron Baynes game is the hard screens he sets, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. The Pistons’ second-unit center, who was signed away from the Spurs during the offseason with a three-year, $19.5MM deal, frees his teammates up with his big body and positioning, Beard adds. “It’s no offense to Andre [Drummond], but Aron Baynes is probably the best screener in the league,” Detroit rookie small forward Stanley Johnson told Beard. “He’s really nailing guys.”

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