INDIANAPOLIS — The moment boiled in emotion.
Atlanta center Pero Antic stood face to face with Indiana forward David West after Antic had hit West from behind. They talked. They stared.
“I didn’t do nothing. I just stand there,” Antic said. “I didn’t want to back down.”
Whatever that moment meant, the bottom-seeded Atlanta Hawks used it to energize a 101-93 win over the No. 1 seed in the opening game of their best-of-seven first-round NBA playoff series Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Following double technical fouls and a layup by West, the Hawks scored 14 consecutive points to take charge of a game that they eventually led by 20 points. They outscored the Pacers 30-16 in a near-perfect third quarter, holding Indiana to 5-of-19 shooting and forcing five turnovers.
“In the third quarter, we got stops. That’s the thing for us. We got stops,” said Atlanta guard Kyle Korver, one of four Hawks starters in double figures with 12 points. “We really just turned up the defense and had a great third quarter.”
The Hawks’ offense was just as impressive. Guard Jeff Teague scored 14 of his game-high 28 points in the third quarter, hitting 4 of 5 shots. Teague and forward Paul Millsap combined for 27 points and five rebounds in the quarter. Nine of their points came at the free throw line.
“We’ve got to be able to guard these guys without marching them to the free throw line,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “We’ve got to do a better job of having discipline on that end.”
Forward Paul George led Indiana with 24 points and 10 rebounds, but he missed large chunks of the second half because of leg cramps. Guard Lance Stephenson added 19 points.
Millsap scored 25 points for the Hawks. Forward DeMarre Carroll had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The second game of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Indianapolis.
“We got the first one,” Korver said. “We’ll try to get another one.”
“I’m happy for our guys to have been rewarded for their efforts and for the way they played together,” Atlanta coach Mike Buldenholzer said. “There’s a lot of basketball; it’s just one game. Our goal is to continue to get better and focus on where we need to improve.”
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.
“I just wanted to be aggressive,” Teague said. “We know they’re a good defensive team with a lot of length. We just wanted to attack, stay aggressive and hit the open guy.”
The game took a physical path when Antic and West battled. After being contacted while missing a 3-point shot, Antic ran to the other end and hit West from behind in the paint while West was trying to get in position to take a pass.
“He elbowed me in the back,” West said.
The confrontation, which took place near the Atlanta bench, seemed to ignite the Hawks. At least, that is where the game changed.
“If it did, I’m happy,” Antic said. “But I’m not the kind of person that likes to create something like that.”
The Hawks ran off 16 straight points and were up 13 after Pacers guard C.J. Watson hit a 3-point shot with 3:37 left in the third quarter. Indiana hit 26.3 percent of its shots in the third quarter.
“I don’t think it was the offensive end. I look at what we did on the defensive end,” Millsap said. “We were able to get stops and rebounds, and that allowed us to get out and attack them.”
While the Hawks turned the game into a rout, all George could do was watch from the bench.
“I checked out when we were down four (points),” George said. “I got kneed and my legs just started cramping up. Came back and it was 73-58.”
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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