Pacers even series with Hawks, winning 91-88

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ATLANTA (AP) - The Indiana Pacers knew what they were up against. This was a game they had to have.

Paul George and David West made sure they got it.

George and West hit key 3-pointers down the closing minutes, and top-seeded Indiana held off the Atlanta Hawks 91-88 to even the opening-round series at two wins apiece Saturday.

Finally, the Pacers showed some grit and resilience, regaining the home-court edge that slipped away when they were stunned by the No. 8-seeded Hawks in Game 1.

“We were just in desperation mode,” West said. “You just can’t go down two games in a playoff series. The odds are against you.”

George put the Pacers ahead 86-85 with a jumper beyond the arc, and West hit another trey with 1:33 remaining.

Atlanta had a chance after Kyle Korver was fouled in the corner and knocked down three free throws, taking advantage of a do-over after the Pacers were called for a lane violation. But George gave the Pacers two chances at the other hand, scrambling for an offensive rebound after Lance Stephenson missed a 3. George Hill took advantage by scooping one in off a drive with 56 seconds left.

That would be the final points. The Hawks whiffed on their last three possessions; Pero Antic missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime after the Pacers made sure Korver, the long-range specialist, didn’t get his hands on the ball.

Game 5 is Monday in Indianapolis.

After questioning his team’s toughness, George scored 24 points and added 10 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double. West added 18 points.

“My number was called,” George said. “I had to deliver.”

Unfortunately for the Hawks, Paul Millsap couldn’t provide the matching punch.

Even though he led the Hawks with 29 points, the All-Star forward turned it over with a bad pass with 33 seconds to go. Then, after Stephenson lost the ball and the Hawks gained possession off a jump, Millsap missed a spinning shot in the lane as Atlanta passed on going for a tying 3-pointer.

“We’re still a confident group,” Millsap said. “We let one slip away, but we showed we can go out and compete in the games up there. That’s where our mindset is now. We’ve got to let this one go and get ready for Monday.”

Indiana left the door open by missing its final four free throws, including a pair by George with 7.5 seconds left when only one would have been enough to seal the victory. But the Pacers buckled down at the defensive end, forcing Antic to throw up a desperation shot that clanked off the rim.

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