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 26, 2014, 12:30 AM EST
The Lakers get a little flexibility to add a player.
Nov 25, 2014, 11:45 PM EST
Business as usual for Steph.
Nov 25, 2014, 10:50 PM EST
The latest setback for the former MVP.
Nov 25, 2014, 10:15 PM EST
Faried put the hammer down.
Nov 25, 2014, 9:30 PM EST
They are that bad because of their defense.
Nov 25, 2014, 8:45 PM EST
What is the deal with that shot?
Nov 25, 2014, 7:50 PM EST
Understanding what the team is doing and paying good money for tickets are different things.
Nov 25, 2014, 6:59 PM EST
Philadelphia’s defense really tanked this play
Nov 25, 2014, 6:15 PM EST
This is a sign of how thin the front line pickings are for teams wanting depth.
Marreese Speights on Kendrick Perkins: ‘He thinks he’s a tough guy, but at the end of the day, his game is terrible’
Nov 25, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
Thunder center doesn’t take criticism without dishing some of his own
Nov 25, 2014, 4:45 PM EST
I’m impressed… and a little jealous.
Nov 25, 2014, 3:59 PM EST
This has been an issue throughout his career.
Nov 25, 2014, 3:20 PM EST
He will be back before the trade deadline, not that he’s that easy to move.
Nov 25, 2014, 2:45 PM EST
Anthony was forced out of Monday’s game against the Rockets with back spasms.
Nov 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Pierce loves his fans — especially those from his days with the Celtics.
Nov 25, 2014, 1:15 PM EST
Can you blame him?
Nov 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Steve Nash also posts a message.
Nov 25, 2014, 11:45 AM EST
As a first-year NBA head coach, Blatt will face plenty of scrutiny as Cleveland underachieves.
Nov 25, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
Lopez was benched for the entire fourth quarter in the team’s latest loss.
Nov 25, 2014, 10:20 AM EST
Stoudemire gets creative in taking a shot at the officiating.
- Kobe Bryant: “We’re not a 3-11 team. We’re not.” 12
- Tom Thibodeau is getting tired of answering Derrick Rose questions 14
- Veteran NBA coach: ‘I think (Cavaliers head coach David Blatt) is struggling a bit’ 28
- PBT’s Monday night NBA Winners/Losers: That looks more like the Cavaliers we expected 12
- Carmelo Anthony exits Knicks-Rockets game with apparent back injury 9
- Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant progressing in rehab, Westbrook could play Friday 6
- Lakers forward Xavier Henry ruptured Achilles in practice, out for season 23
- PBT Extra: Our Thanksgiving week turkeys, starting with the 76ers 2