The Indiana Pacers returned to their best with a dominant win over the Atlanta Hawks.
After the Hawks blew the Pacers away in the second half of Game 1, the Pacers found their third-quarter mojo, a calling card of theirs all season.
Indiana outscored Atlanta 31-13 in the third quarter and took control of the game with a 19-0 run during the third and early fourth quarters.
Paul George rebounded from his poor opening game, scoring 27 points on 9-16 from the floor and took turns defending Jeff Teague, chief tormentor last time round, hustling him into a 6-13 performance as the Hawks shot just 31-79 from the field.
Luis Scola, brought in by Indiana to be a scorer from the bench, became the scorer from the bench with 20 points and missed just five of his 14 shots.
Despite the win getting the Pacers back on track and at least avoiding going behind 2-0 before hitting the road, there still remains a major issue to be resolved.
Roy Hibbert was yet again anonymous, scoring just six points and pulling down four rebounds. Regardless of his apparent disregard for his own personal stats – he lets guards grab rebounds to start the break – four rebounds from a possible 38 is scandalous for an All-Star and touted All-NBA center.
The story from Game 1 was the Pacers’ defense not being able to curtail the Hawks in the half-court, a hallmark of their season-long campaign to be the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
The defense took apart Atlanta in the third quarter, reducing them to late heaves at the rim from deep, culminating in the Hawks shooting 1-8 from behind the three-point line in the third frame. Paul George took the Hawks’ last three-point miss and sunk a three of his own as the third-quarter buzzer sounded.