Pacers 101, Hawks 85

The Pacers answered back.

With their backs to the wall after dropping the series opener to the Hawks, the Pacers responded with a strong second half. The result was a Pacers 101-85 victory over the Hawks in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference playoff series Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1.

Despite the lopsided loss in a must-win for the Pacers, the Hawks got what they wanted in Indianapolis. They stole home-court advantage and now return to Atlanta.

They will return home with a bad taste in their mouth.

The Pacers led by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter. The Hawks pulled their starters with 6:58 remaining.

The Pacers dominated the third quarter – from start to finish. Paul George hit a 3-pointer to start the period. He ended it with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and screamed at the Hawks bench with the shot that gave the Pacers a 79-65 advantage.

When the Pacers scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter, part of a 19-0 run between periods, and the lead was 22. It would continue to grow.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 19 points, only four in the second half. Jeff Teague finished with 14 points, two after intermission. Lou Williams had 11 points to round out the Hawks in double figures.

A fired up Paul George scored a game-high 27 points to lead the Pacers. He was still in the game with less than six minutes remaining and the Pacers up big. He finally exited with 5:14 remaining. Luis Scola scored 20 points off the bench, including 11 in the second quarter

The Pacers outscored the Hawks 31-13 in the decisive third period. They erased a four-point halftime deficit with a 14-7 run. Lance Stephenson was fouled while converted a layup and his free throw with 7:58 left in the third period that put the Pacers up by three points. The rout was on. The Pacers shot 12 of 16 from the field in the third.

The Pacers made several defensive switches to start the game – most notably putting George on Teague. They also put David West on Pero Antic and Roy Hibbert on Millsap.

The Hawks withstood the Pacers’ first punch, a 7-0 run to start the game as the Hawks missed their first five shots. The Hawks went on a 21-8 run and grabbed a six-point lead, 21-15. Teague had seven points in the run and finished the first quarter with seven points, five rebounds and three assists. The Hawks led 26-21 after the first quarter.

The Hawks’ advantage grew to as many as 11 points in the second quarter, 38-27. The only thing that saved the Pacers was Scola, who scored 11 of the team’s first 13 points in the period. The Hawks took a 52-48 lead into intermission.

Late in the second quarter, Teague beat George to the basket for a layup and stared him down on the way down the court. George responded with a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession and returned the look.

The series moves to Atlanta for Game 3 Thursday and Game 4 Saturday.

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