George leads Pacers past Hawks for 2-0 lead
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Paul George followed his triple-double by scoring a playoff career-high 27 points to lead Indiana past Atlanta 113-98 on Wednesday night.
The Pacers lead the best-of-seven first-round series 2-0 and have won four straight home games over the Hawks. It’s the first time Indiana has held a 2-0 series lead since the 2004 Eastern Conference semifinals.
George, playing in his first game since being named the league’s Most Improved Player, was 11 of 21 from the field, had eight rebounds, three assists and four steals and again played well defensively. George Hill had 22 points.
Atlanta was led by Devin Harris with 17 points. Jeff Teague and Josh Smith both had 16. The Hawks head home for Game 3 on Saturday.
Indiana again took control late in the first quarter and never trailed again.
The Hawks did play with more passion after being chastised by coach Larry Drew for not playing through calls and getting “manhandled” by the Pacers in Game 1.
The problem on Wednesday was that they got too aggressive at times. Josh Smith drew two fouls in the first 2 minutes and spent most of the game in foul trouble. An angry Al Horford charged toward an official in the second quarter after already picking up one technical and, fortunately for the Hawks, Harris grabbed Horford with two hands and pulled him away – keeping Horford and the Hawks in the game. Atlanta’s other big inside players, Johan Petro and Ivan Johnson got into foul trouble in the second half, too.
It resulted in a second straight double-digit loss for the Hawks – a game in which the Pacers produced their highest postseason point total since a 120-87 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals.
In many ways, Wednesday’s game looked awfully similar to what happened Sunday.
After scoring the first six points in Game 1, Atlanta opened Wednesday’s game with the first five points. Then, just like Sunday, the Pacers rallied to take the lead after one quarter and didn’t allow the Hawks to catch up. Indiana extended its 25-19 lead to 59-50 at halftime and to 16 late in the third quarter.
The Hawks did get within 88-76 after three, then watched Indiana go on a 9-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to take a 104-85 lead with 5:41 to go and the Hawks never challenged again.
Notes: Injured Pacers guard Danny Granger presented his friend George with the NBA’s Most Improved Player trophy at midcourt before tip-off. … Indiana has lost 11 straight at Atlanta. … Indiana lost starting guard Lance Stephenson late in the first quarter when he landed hard on his right hip after being called for a charge. He was diagnosed with a bruised right hip and did not return until the start of the second half. Hill, the Pacers’ other starting guard, appeared to hurt his right elbow late. … Indiana is 51 of 63 from the free-throw line over the first two games. Atlanta is just 18 of 34.