INDIANAPOLIS — Guard Jeff Teague scored 14 of his game-high 28 points in the third quarter, leading the Atlanta Hawks to a stunning 101-93 victory Saturday night over Indiana in the opening game of their NBA playoff series.
The Hawks entered the playoffs with the worst regular-season record (38-44) in the 16-team playoff field, but they struck big in their underdog role. The Pacers won the Central Division title and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they trailed by as many as 20 points to Atlanta.
Dominating the third quarter, Atlanta made quick work of the Pacers in front of a sellout crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where Indiana won an NBA-best 35 games this season. Teague and forward Paul Millsap combined for 27 points and five rebounds in the third quarter as the Hawks outscored the Pacers 30-16, turning a halftime tie into a rout.
Forward Paul George led Indiana with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Lance Stephenson added 19 points.
Millsap scored 25 points for the Hawks. Forward DeMarre Carroll and guard Kyle Korver each added 12. Carroll also had 10 rebounds.
The second game of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Indianapolis.
Teague has been a thorn in the Pacers’ side recently. He scored 25 points in the Hawks’ 107-88 victory at Indiana on April 6.
The game took a physical path in the third quarter, when Indiana forward David West and Atlanta center Pero Antic stood face to face in an argument after Antic pushed West hard from behind. After double technical fouls were called on West and Antic, West drove in and scored on a layup.
That seemed only to motivate the Hawks. Atlanta scored the next 14 points and by the time Indiana guard C.J. Watson hit a 3-point shot with 3:37 left in the third quarter, the Pacers were down by 16 points.
The Pacers battled back from a nine-point deficit in the first quarter after a 16-2 Atlanta run put the Hawks in control. The Pacers went more than three minutes without scoring a basket and had just one basket — a layup by guard George Hill following an Atlanta turnover — in nearly six minutes.
NOTES: The Pacers are healthy for the playoffs except for C Andrew Bynum, who has not played since March 15 because of persistent soreness in his right knee. … Atlanta F/C Gustavo Ayon (shoulder), F/C Al Horford (pectoral muscle) and G John Jenkins (back) are all out due to surgeries suffered earlier this season. … The Pacers and Hawks are facing each other in the playoffs for the second straight year and the sixth time overall. Indiana won last year’s first-round series, 4-2. … Bankers Life Fieldhouse had a gold look to it because a gold T-shirt was left for each of the 18,165 spectators with the words: Blue Collar, Gold Swagger. … Pacers F Paul George attempted 500 3-point shots during the regular season, ranking No. 2 in club history behind Reggie Miller’s 536 in 1996-97.
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