Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pacers on brink of elimination

INDIANAPOLIS—Atlanta’s Mike Scott hit Indiana with the first three-point barrage last night.
The Hawks’ defence then staggered the Pacers with some late stops.

Now Atlanta is heading home with a chance to deliver the knockout punch to the Eastern Conference’s top seed.
Scott scored all 17 of his points during the Hawks’ incredible second-quarter run, then the defence fended off the Pacers’ frantic fourth-quarter charge, to hold on for a 107-97 victory and a stunning 3-2 lead in the first-round series.
“We can play with this team,” Scott said.
“They’re a great team, especially at home, great players, great coach,” he noted. “But we have a belief in ourselves, as well.”
All the Hawks have to do is protect their home court and they will reach the second round for the first time since 2011—and throw the East into disarray after the talk all season was about an Indiana-Miami rematch in the conference final.
That looks like a longshot now. The Pacers haven’t won consecutive games with their regular starters in the lineup since mid-March and the league’s best regular-season home team (35-6) inexplicably has given away home-court advantage to the Hawks—twice.
They’re making it look easy, too.
Atlanta shredded one of the league’s top defences during a remarkable second quarter, making 13-of-16 shots overall and 9-of-11 from beyond the arc.
Scott made all five of his threes during the decisive 30-6 run, which actually started with the final basket of the first quarter, to turn a 21-18 deficit into a 48-27 lead.
Indiana never recovered.
Elsewhere, Miami beat Charlotte 109-98 to sweep that series while San Antonio downed Dallas 93-89 to tie their series at 2-2.

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