Saturday, May 3 at 5:30 p.m. ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 92, Hawks 80, Game 7
Scott Agness | May 3, 2014
For the first time in NBA franchise history, the Pacers hosted a Game 7 in their building. It was an electrifying atmosphere with screaming fans decked out in their Gold Out t-shirts.
It may have taken longer than they had hoped, but the Pacers looked like the better team with a 92-80 beating of the Atlanta Hawks Saturday evening at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. For the third consecutive season, the Pacers are on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, which they’ll open at home Monday night against the Washington Wizards.
The Pacers overcame some early jitters, 1-for-6 shooting and five turnovers in the first four minutes. Center Roy Hibbert rewarded coach Frank Vogel for sticking with him – Hibbert said after the game there was never any question whether he’d be pulled from the starting lineup in any game – by hitting 4-of-5 shots and scoring eight points in the first period – more than he tallied in his last 49 minutes over three games. Indiana scored seven straight to end the first period with a one-point edge, despite seven turnovers.
In the second, the Pacers’ smashmouth defense seemingly returned. The Hawks missed 16-of-20 attempts and stepped to the foul line just three times. As they locked down and their defense resembled how they played for the first half of the season, they closed the first half on an 18-4 run for a 47-36 halftime advantage. Ian Mahinmi, who was big in this series even though his numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, provided the examination point – a stuff of Jeff Teague at the rim with his left hand.
The Pacers carried their momentum into the second half, where they scored 10 unanswered – seven coming from point guard George Hill. Late in the quarter, the Hawks scored on five consecutive possessions, including a couple 3-pointers from Mike Scott for a ‘here we go’ kind of moment. His last one brought the Hawks to within nine with one quarter to play. In each of their four wins this series, the Pacers led after three quarters.
One day after he received the best birthday gift possible — no suspension handed down from the NBA for possibly leaving the “immediate vicinity of their bench” in their Game 6 win — Paul George led the Pacers offensively and stepped up as stars do in this league. He scored the Pacers’ first three hoops in the final frame to push their lead to double digits for good. The two-time All-Star was spectacular on both ends as he finished with a postseason career-best 30 points and his sixth double-double (11 rebounds) of the series.
The players were upbeat and relieved after the last couple weeks they had been through. Adjustments was the buzzword and guys had to sacrifice – Luis Scola and Evan Turner did not play – but they managed to overcome Atlanta’s spread-5 as their season lives at least another couple weeks.
Coach Vogel preached all series that the first team that wins consecutive games usually wins the series and it turned out, he was right.
Inside the Numbers
Four of Indiana’s five starters scored in double figures. Although David West had an off night offensively, going 1-for-7 for four points, he made a big impact on the game, collecting 13 rebounds and blocking six shots. Lance Stephenson finished with 19 points (on 8-of-12 shooting), a playoff career-best 14 rebounds, and five assists.
Roy Hibbert had his best game of the series with 13 points, seven rebounds and five swats in 31 minutes. It was his first time in double-figures in 12 games. George Hill was steady, finishing with 15 points (9-for-9 at the foul line), five rebounds and four assists.
Kyle Korver was one of five Hawks players in double figures, leading the way with 19 points. Jeff Teague scored 16, 10 coming in the first half. With six more tonight, Teague made his final 32 free throws in the series. Paul Millsap recovered from his 0-for-9 first half shooting to contribute 15 points and 17 rebounds.
Indiana’s 13 rejections were a postseason franchise record.
The Pacers turned it over a series-high 18 times, but just once over the final 12 minutes. The Hawks failed to make them pay for it, scoring just nine points off turnovers.
The Pacers were just 3-of-18 from long range, and fortunately for them, the Hawks weren’t much better, 11-for-44. Atlanta’s 44 3-point attempts were the most by any team in NBA Playoffs history, topping the Dallas Mavericks’ 42 in 2003.
“He’s a gamer. The bigger the stakes, the better he’s going to play. He proved that tonight on both ends of the court.” – Frank Vogel on Paul George
“You always feel for guys on your team that are struggling. You do what you can to push them or encourage them, challenge them when they need to. It’s like your family, it’s like your children. You want the best for them. (It was) very gratifying to stay with him and then to see him step up the way he did today.” – Vogel on Roy Hibbert
“I felt I had a hot hand and I was passing up a lot of opportunities. As soon as I got the chance to get to my mid-range, it really opened the game up. That’s an area that’s kind of been a lost part. I haven’t really gotten to it in a while so once my mid-range started to go, I felt really confident shooting the ball tonight.” – Paul George
“They challenged us and we just answered the challenge. They’ve been spreading the floor and knocking down threes and tonight, I think they died by the three.” – Lance Stephenson
“Everyone was focused. Form yesterday’s practice, everyone came in together, focused and determined. Our backs were against the wall.” – George Hill
“Nobody expected us to be here. Nobody expected us to push them to seven games. Even with all of our injuries, our team felt like we underachieved.” – Paul Millsap
Stat of the Game
For the second straight game, the Pacers attempted more free throws (29 to 16) and outscored the Hawks at the line by 10.
- The Pacers were previously 0-10 all-time when they trailed 3-2 in a best-of-seven series.
- Atlanta drops to 0-9 on the road all-time in Game 7s while Indiana improves to 3-4 in Game 7s.
- David West received a technical foul in the third quarter. Lance Stephenson was called for one in the fourth quarter, his third of the postseason.
The Pacers host the Washington Wizards in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday, May 5. Find Tickets »