Hawks Take 3-2 Lead on Pacers
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Mike Scott made five 3-pointers during a 30-6 second-quarter run Monday night, and the Atlanta Hawks fended off a furious fourth-quarter rally to beat top-seeded Indiana 107-97 and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Atlanta can clinch the first-round series at home Thursday.
Shelvin Mack led the eighth-seeded Hawks with 20 points.
Paul George had 26 for Indiana, which got as close as eight points in the final minute.
For the Pacers, it was another bleak chapter in a second-half implosion that could go down as the worst in NBA history if they can’t survive this series.
On Monday, one of the league’s best defensive teams inexplicably collapsed in the second quarter. Atlanta was 9 of 11 from beyond the arc in the quarter and shot 81.3 percent from the field during a second quarter in which the Pacers allowed their most points ever in a playoff game and the Hawks matched their second-highest scoring total in the same quarter during a postseason game.
Atlanta previously did it against Detroit on April 17, 1986. The St. Louis Hawks scored 45 points against Fort Wayne on March 14, 1957.
And it was every bit as impressive as it seemed.
Atlanta opened the quarter with a free throw from Mack to tie the score at 21. Scott then made four consecutive 3s to push the lead to 33-21.
It didn’t stop there.
Mack hit a midrange jumper, Kyle Korver made a 3, Scott scored on a putback and Korver hit his second 3. Mack followed that with two free throws and Scott closed the run with his last 3 of the game. That gave Atlanta a 48-27 lead.
Indiana never recovered.
The Pacers still trailed 61-40 at halftime and by as many as 30 points in the third quarter.
Indiana cut the deficit to 85-67 late in the third and with the crowd urging it to keep playing, closed to 96-87 with 4:04 to go. But Korver knocked down another 3 and the Hawks closed it out at the free throw line.
The Pacers, who haven’t won consecutive games with their regular starters since mid-March, now must win the last two games of the series to advance.
Atlanta set a postseason record by making 15 3s.
Notes: The Pacers had a moment of silence to honor former coach Jack Ramsay, who died Monday at age 89. Ramsay led the Pacers to the first NBA playoff win in franchise history. … Atlanta has three wins at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and is the only team to beat Indiana on its home court more than once this season.