Pacers stage late rally to force Game 7 with Hawks
ATLANTA – David West led Indiana on a 16-4 run to end the game, extending the season for the top-seeded Pacers with a 95-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks last night.
Trailing 3-2 after losing at home for the second time in the best-of-seven series, Indiana was poised for an early summer when the Hawks pushed out to an 84-79 lead with just over three minutes remaining, cheered on by a raucous crowd.
But, for the fourth time in this back-and-forth affair, the road team won.
West seemed to make every big play down the stretch, scoring four straight points and forcing a huge turnover to begin the turnaround. West hit two more baskets in the final minute to wrap things up, finishing with 24 points.
Game 7 is tomorrow in Indianapolis.
Paul George also scored 24 points for the Pacers, making four straight free throws to help finish off the Hawks, trying to become only the sixth No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed.
Atlanta, playing perhaps its biggest home playoff game since the 1980s, looked as if it was on the verge of a huge celebration when the defense sagged and Jeff Teague knocked down a jumper, pushing the home team to an five-point lead with 3:16 to go.
But the Pacers showed some of the resolve they’ve been accused of lacking, led by West. After swishing a pair of free throws, he hustled back to swat the ball away from Atlanta’s Pero Antic. Making sure Indiana took advantage of the turnover, West scored again on a jumper from the top of the key.
Paul Millsap missed at the other end, and George Hill burst into the lane to drop one in. Just like that, the Pacers were back up 85-84 with 1:58 remaining.
Antic tied it for the final time, 85-all, on a free throw with 1:24 remaining. But that was it for the Hawks.
West hit another jumper to put the Pacers ahead for good. Then, coming off a timeout, Lou Williams drove under the basket and tried to throw an outlet pass to Teague for a 3-pointer, but the ball went right to George. He was immediately fouled, made both free throws, and Teague missed again for the Hawks after a brilliant night to seal it for the Pacers.
Thunder 104, Grizzlies 84
Kevin Durant scored 36 points to break out of a slump, and Oklahoma City forced a deciding seventh game.
Russell Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, who haven’t been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs since 2010. They took control early with Durant scoring 14 points in the first quarter, led by 15 at halftime and never let Memphis get closer in the second half in the first game in the series ended in regulation since the opener.
Durant also had 10 rebounds and made 14 of 15 free throws.
Game 7 is tomorrow night in Oklahoma City.
Marc Gasol had 17 points and Zach Randolph 16 for Memphis. Guard Mike Conley strained his right hamstring, briefly returned and left for good with 8:48 left.