The series between the scrappy Atlanta Hawks and top-seeded Indiana Pacers was due for a down-to-the-wire game. Unfortunately, the Hawks found themselves on the wrong end of a thriller as the final buzzer rang through the arena with the Pacers on top 91-88.
The series is now tied up at 2-2 after Indy won in Atlanta for only the third time since 2006.
The Hawks fought hard to the very end, as Paul Millsap lead the team on their home court with a stellar performance. Millsap was the key factor to the Hawks staying with the Pacers the entire night.
Millsap finished with 29 points on 10-18 shooting from the field, and also went a perfect 6-6 from the foul line.
The Hawks finished with a small deficit at the end of the first quarter, but the Pacers would go cold in the second as the Hawks held them to 13 points in the second period, entering halftime with a 48-42 lead.
The third quarter had determined the previous three games in this series, but was much different this time as both teams seemed to just trade baskets the entire quarter. The Hawks were especially efficient during those 12 minutes as they committed zero turnovers. Even with their efficiency, they were kept under control on the offensive end by Indiana, as they would only score 17 points in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter continued the pattern of a close game and it came down to the last few possessions to decide who would come out of this one on top.
The Pacers jumped out to a four-point lead with about 90 seconds left on the clock, but the Hawks kept fighting as Kyle Korver drew a foul on a three-point attempt. Kyle would make the first two, but missed the third. However, a lane violation was called on George Hill and Korver got another free throw attempt — he made it, cutting the game to a one-point margin in Indiana’s favor.
Indiana came rushing back down the court, which lead to a Stephenson three point attempt that didn’t fall, but did allow for Paul George to grab the offensive board. The offensive rebound led to George Hill finishing a layup, giving the Pacers a three-point cushion.
The Hawks’ next possession ended poorly as the Pacers forced a bad pass out of bounds from Millsap.
Indy came back down the court to try and run clock, but Korver forced a loose ball which ended in a pileup. The officials called for a jump ball that ended up knocked out of bounds by Lance Stephenson.
The Hawks would come out of timeout with a play setup for Millsap, but ended in a missed layup. David West was fouled on the rebound, moving the ball up to the halfcourt and DeMarre Carroll was close to forcing a turnover on the inbound, but a foul was called, putting Paul George on the line.
Atlanta received one last support of life as George would miss both free throws.
The Hawks went into one last timeout to try and put something together for a game-tying three-point attempt, but the Pacers proved why they are a feared defensive presence as they forced a very difficult three-point attempt for Pero Antic that would not fall, giving the victory to the Pacers.
Atlanta received strong performances from Jeff Teague, who finished with 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds, as well as Kyle Korver, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
George led the Pacers with 24 points and 10 rebounds, Indiana was also aided by their bench players, such as Evan Turner who provided 11 points and four assists in a limited 20 minutes of action.
All knotted at 2-2, the first-round series has transformed into a best-of-three scenario. Indiana has two more games at home left, if necessary, and the series will now shift to Indianapolis for Game 5. The Hawks will need at least one win on the road if they wish to pull off the upset.
Game 5 will air Monday night at 8 PM ET on NBA TV.