Pacers finish off Hawks, win Game 6, 81-73
Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) and Atlanta Hawks center Johan Petro (10) vie for a loose ball during the first half of an NBA first-round playoff basketball game in Atlanta, Friday, May 3, 2013. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) shoots against Indiana Pacers power forward Jeff Pendergraph (29) during the first half of an NBA first-round playoff basketball game in Atlanta, Friday, May 3, 2013. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
George Hill and David West each scored 21 points and the Indiana Pacers withstood a furious Atlanta comeback in the fourth quarter, beating the Hawks, 81-73, last night to close out the opening-round playoff series four games to two.
The home team had won every game until the Hawks returned to Philips Arena and set a franchise record with just nine points in the second quarter on 1-of-15 shooting. The defense broke down in the third, allowing Hill and West to combine for 22 points, and the Pacers built a 65-50 lead going to the fourth.
The Hawks showed some heart, slicing it to 76-73 on Al Horford’s dunk with 2:13 remaining.
But the comeback fizzled there, and the Pacers advanced to face New York.
The Hawks went through an absolutely brutal stretch from early in the second quarter to nearly midway through the third, in which they did not actually put the ball in the hoop.
In the equivalent of more than a quarter – 15:43 to be exact – Atlanta went 1-of-21 from the field, the only basket awarded to Devin Harris on a goaltending call against Roy Hibbert.
At a time when the Hawks needed one of their best performances of the season, they produced one of their worst.
Now, they face an uncertain future. Atlanta has only three players who are definitely under contract for next season – Horford is the only starter in the group – and it seems likely this will be a much different team next season. Longtime stalwart Josh Smith, an Atlanta native who has played for the team for eight seasons, is among those heading into free agency and seems unlikely to return.
If so, Smith missed his final shot in a Hawks uniform.
That was fitting on a night when Atlanta made only 26-of-78 (33 percent). Horford led with 15 points, while Smith and Devin Harris finished with 14.
Indiana bullied the Hawks much of the night, overcoming their own poor shooting (32-of-76) by bullying Atlanta in the lane. The Pacers finished with a staggering 53-35 lead on the boards.
Hibbert added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Lance Stephenson also had 11 rebounds.