Apr 28, 2014, 11:54 PM EST
After the first, he bounced as he backed down court.
After the second, he trotted away and slapped his rear end as if he were a horse. (Giddy up!)
After the third, he shook his head widely side to side as if not even he could believe the fortuitous bank.
After the fourth, he winked as he returned to the other end of the court.
Mike Scott made 3-pointers on four consecutive second-quarter possessions as the Atlanta Hawks celebrated early and survived late, ultimately beating the Indiana Pacers 107-97 Monday.
The freewheeling Hawks now lead the series 3-2 and are only one win from becoming the sixth No. 8 seed ever to upset a No. 1 seed. With Game 6 in Atlanta on Thursday, the Hawks could end the Pacers’ free fall before the weekend.
But maybe Indiana has just a little fight left.
Early in the third quarter, this seemed like every Hawks win in the series. They were spreading Indiana’s once-suffocating defense, confidently raining 3s.
A couple minutes later, the Hawks led 80-50 – claiming the largest lead in the series by either team.
“We can close this gap,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel, who also had a third-quarter technical, implored his team before the fourth quarter.
At the time, Vogel’s words sounded hollow – the last gasps of a coach headed to the chopping block. But Vogel backed his words with necessary action.
The Pacers used three lineups in the fourth quarter, each smaller than the last:
- C.J. Watson-Lance Stephenson-Paul George-Chris Copeland-Ian Mahinmi
- C.J. Watson-Lance Stephenson-Paul George-Chris Copeland-David West
- C.J. Watson-George Hill-Paul George-Chris Copeland-David West
None of those three lineups had played together all season, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Indiana began the fourth down 20. Copeland hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Watson found space. George got aggressive. All the while, the Pacers’ smaller and quicker players better defended Atlanta on the perimeter.
Multiple times, Atlanta’s lead fell to single digits, but Indiana had its best chance down nine with four minutes left and never got closer than eight .
The Pacers’ Game 5 comeback run out of time. Their season hasn’t necessarily.
Despite tonight’s setback, they should have renewed hope of reaching the second round. These small lineups can work.
As Atlanta’s lead dwindled against Indiana’s mobility, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was the one struggling to match up. Atlanta doesn’t have the juice to compete with the Pacers playing anywhere near even their average, and it showed.
It’s up to Vogel to keep the momentum going.
Hibbert never returned after sitting with his fourth foul, and he finished with zero points and zero rebounds. The mounting pressure on Vogel to bench his All-Star center has never been higher. With the Pacers’ season definitely and Vogel’s future with the team probably on the line, there’s little option now. Hibbert must sit.
And that still might not be enough.
The Hawks are capable of getting hot and stealing one game of two from nearly anyone in the league. Tonight, they made 15-of-27 from beyond the arc, setting an Atlanta franchise playoff record for 3-pointers made and an Indiana franchise playoff record 3-pointers allowed.
After that one, he just ran back on defense. The Hawks draining 3s and beating Indiana has become business as usual.
Unless the Pacers learned in the fourth quarter how to save their season.
Nov 21, 2014, 1:39 PM EST
Martin suffered injury against Knicks on Wednesday
Nov 21, 2014, 1:01 PM EST
Did Bulls center think Cousins flopped?
Nov 21, 2014, 12:25 PM EST
Brooklyn forward had fallen from rotation
Nov 21, 2014, 11:47 AM EST
Mark Cuban says technology will give his team an edge on the court
Nov 21, 2014, 11:08 AM EST
How long will Celtics general manager keep that stance?
Nov 21, 2014, 10:29 AM EST
Yup, Richardson is still hanging around the 76ers
Nov 21, 2014, 9:51 AM EST
Cavaliers and Rockets were reportedly interested in Timberwolves forward
Nov 21, 2014, 9:14 AM EST
Who would have figured offering a 50 percent discount following Philadelphia wins wouldn’t work?
Nov 21, 2014, 8:38 AM EST
That’s a look
Nov 21, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Add rookie’s mom to long list of people angry about 76ers tanking
Nov 21, 2014, 12:15 AM EST
Morris said Pistons’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope “doesn’t have any heart”, Van Gundy fires back.
Nov 20, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
Another one that shouldn’t be punished.
Jason Kidd tells Joe Johnson ‘we know it’s coming to you’ late in Bucks’ triple-overtime win over Nets
Nov 20, 2014, 10:15 PM EST
Kidd trash talked his former player in crunch time.
Nov 20, 2014, 9:15 PM EST
This one isn’t really worth punishing.
Nov 20, 2014, 8:15 PM EST
Adam Silver’s support for legalized sports betting is making him unpopular in some circles.
Nov 20, 2014, 7:30 PM EST
The virus has affected almost half of Memphis’ roster.
Nov 20, 2014, 6:45 PM EST
Love is averaging 16.7 points per game in his first year with the Cavs.
Nov 20, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
NBPA director Michele Roberts calls the suspension “excessive.”
Nov 20, 2014, 5:15 PM EST
Rose could be out longer.
Nov 20, 2014, 4:30 PM EST
17 is far too low.
- Timberwolves’ Kevin Martin out indefinitely after scoring 31 points with fractured wrist 2
- Andrei Kirilenko leaves Nets for road trip, Lionel Hollins unsure if he’ll return 5
- Report: Danny Ainge telling other teams he won’t trade Rajon Rondo 7
- PBT Extra: How would the NBA benefit from legalized sports betting? 2
- NBPA ready to appeal Jeffery Taylor’s 24-game suspension 11
- Alex Len, No. 5 pick in a draft full of players who looked like busts as rookies, showing he doesn’t deserve the label 5
- PBT’s Wednesday night NBA Winners/Losers: Video of LeBron’s fumble, other tight finishes 14
- LeBron James, with chance to beat Spurs, loses ball to end game (video) 39