INDIANAPOLIS — Forward Paul George and the Indiana Pacers answered their doubters on Tuesday night.
George scored a game-high 27 points and the Pacers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 101-85 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to tie their best-of-seven first-round playoff series at one game each.
Game 3 will be played Thursday night at Atlanta’s Phillips Arena.
Forward Luis Scola, who did not score a basket in Indiana’s 101-93 loss in the series opener on Saturday, came off the bench to supply 20 points. Point guard George Hill added 15 points.
Forward Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 19 points. Guard Jeff Teague, who scored 28 points in the series opener, had 14 and was held to two points in the second half.
A 19-point run by the Pacers in the last three minutes of the third quarter and the first three minutes of the fourth quarter buried the Hawks. By the time the streak was over, Indiana had pulled ahead 87-65.
And if the score rolling up quickly on the Hawks was not damaging enough, the final few seconds of the third quarter completely destroyed them.
A block by Indiana forward Ian Mahinmi set up a fast break and George hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the quarter with Bankers Life Fieldhouse erupting in noise.
The Pacers scored the last 14 points of the third quarter and the first five points of the fourth. The Hawks went six minutes without a basket.
Hill scored 10 points in the third quarter and George had eight as the Pacers outscored the Hawks 31-13.
The Pacers, once down 11 points, began the third quarter with a four-point deficit after Millsap scored 13 points in the first half.
Teague and Millsap burned the Pacers early. They each hit five of their first eight shots from the field, helping the Hawks build an 11-point lead in the second quarter. But they were held to a combined six points in the third quarter, when the Pacers took control.
Scola gave the Pacers a big lift in the second quarter. The 6-foot-9 bench player hit 5 of 10 shots from the field in the quarter, scoring 11 points and grabbing five rebounds. Scola scored on three consecutive possessions, which kept Atlanta’s lead to six points at the time.
NOTES: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer congratulated his former boss, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, by phone on Tuesday after Popovich was named NBA Coach of the Year. “I’m a little biased. I think he’s the coach of the year every year,” said Budenholzer, who was a Spurs assistant for 17 years before becoming Atlanta’s head coach in 2013. … Before Tuesday’s game, Atlanta G Jeff Teague had averaged 26.5 points per game in his two most recent games against Indiana. His 16.5 points per game average during the regular season was a career high. … The Pacers won their last game in Atlanta, 89-85 on Feb. 4, breaking a 12-game losing streak at Phillips Arena. Game 3 of the series is Thursday at Phillips Arena. …The Pacers are attempting to break playoff history against the Hawks. In all previous five playoff series between the teams, the winner of Game 1 has won the series.
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