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George leads Pacers past Hawks, 113-98, for 2-0 lead

Atlanta Hawks forward Ivan Johnson (44) shoots over Indiana Pacers forward Paul George in the first half of Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Indianapolis, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Atlanta Hawks forward Ivan Johnson (44) shoots over Indiana Pacers forward Paul George in the first half of Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Indianapolis, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Paul George followed his triple-double by scoring a playoff career-high 27 points to lead Indiana past Atlanta, 113-98, last 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 last night was that they got too aggressive at times. Josh Smith drew two fouls in the first two 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, yesterday’s game looked awfully similar to what happened Sunday.

After scoring the first six points in Game 1, Atlanta opened last night’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.

Thunder 105, Rockets 102

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 29 points, and Oklahoma City recovered after squandering a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter to beat Houston and take a 2-0 series lead.

Durant hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:28 to play, and the Thunder didn’t relinquish the lead after that. Durant missed a free throw with one second left, but Houston was out of timeouts and Carlos Delfino couldn’t connect on a desperation shot at the buzzer.

James Harden scored 36 points and spearheaded a 21-2 comeback that wiped away the big deficit and put the Rockets up 95-91. But the top-seeded Thunder were able to respond and protect the home-court advantage they’d spent all season earning.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Houston.

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