Apr 28, 2014, 11:54 PM EDT
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.
Mar 31, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT
Which is easier to insult, the Lakers or Justin Bieber?
Mar 31, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT
Harrell a potential lottery pick, Rozier a potential first rounder
Mar 31, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2015, 5:38 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2015, 4:56 PM EDT
This was fun frustration
Mar 31, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT
Knicks fans should be patient with this season. Optimistic… that’s a tough sell.
Mar 31, 2015, 2:59 PM EDT
LeBron names his three, and says after that he has ‘a bunch of teammates.’
Mar 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
It had been hoped that Beverley might be available to return later in the postseason.
Mar 31, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT
Mar 31, 2015, 12:40 PM EDT
We already knew Durant was done for the season, but the Thunder have updated his status.
Mar 31, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Kyrie Irving on his relationship with LeBron James: ‘I don’t want to say it’s not been rocky at all’
Mar 31, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT
Things are clicking now in Cleveland, but it wasn’t that way at the beginning of the season.
Mar 31, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT
Interaction ended with a handshake, but it seemed evident Saunders remained displeased.
Mar 31, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
Hornets were fighting for a playoff spot, but their big free agent acquisition sat on the bench.
Mar 31, 2015, 9:20 AM EDT
Team has nothing left to play for, and Cousins has some nagging injuries.
Mar 31, 2015, 8:40 AM EDT
Great win — except for the fact that it may help cost the Lakers their draft pick this summer.
Mar 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Mar 31, 2015, 1:38 AM EDT
Also, is Kyle Korver human?
Mar 31, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
He won’t replace Wesley Matthews, but he’s another body.
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- Derrick Rose returns to full-contact practice, Bulls return date still unknown 13
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- PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Cream rising to top as playoffs near 27
- Report: Patrick Beverley out for rest of season, including playoffs 8