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 on Friday 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 or Boston.
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(ATLANTA) (AP) The Indiana Pacers are in Atlanta Friday night for game six of their best-of-seven series in the first-round playoff series. If they win tonight, they can move to the next round. If not, they're headed back to Indianapolis for game seven.
It's history the Pacers are anxious to change. The Blue and Gold have lost 13 straight games in Atlanta. Something obviously goes very wrong every time the team plays here.
Games three and four of this series were not competitive, although the Pacers managed to pull within five points of Atlanta in game four.
Still, Head Coach Frank Vogel doesn't have anything "dramatically different" planned for Friday night.
"I think this is about execution and energy and effort and just playing a strong basketball game. We understand we're not gonna win if we give up an 18-0 run. We've taken measures to prevent that during the time of the game they were doing that to us and hopefully we can carry that into game six," said the coach.
A bonus for the Pacers: David West arrived in Game 5, and if he can put in a repeat stellar performance, the Pacers will advance easily.
The Hawks, meantime, arrived at Philips Arena for what was expected to be a regular practice session Thursday. Instead, coach Larry Drew spoke briefly with the players and sent them home.
Drew says he needed to try something different after the Hawks were blown out in Game 5 of their series with Indiana. The Pacers romped to a 106-83 win on their home court, taking a 3-2 lead and moving into position to wrap up the series Friday night in Atlanta.
The Hawks totally lost their cool in Game 5. Three players picked up technical fouls for griping to the officials and two more technical were whistled for defensive 3-second calls.
In two other NBA games tonight, the visiting team can clinch the series with a victory. In Boston it'll be game six for the Celtics and Knicks, who lead 3-2. Oklahoma City takes a 3-2 advantage to Houston in game six of that best of seven series.