- Associated Press - Friday, May 2, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - Three minutes from a far-sooner-than-expected summer vacation, the Indiana Pacers turned to their rock.

David West didn’t let them down.

Now, it’s back to Indianapolis for Game 7, the top-seeded Pacers giving themselves another chance to finally shake off the Atlanta Hawks.

West scored 24 points and led a 16-4 run to end the game, pushing Indiana to a 95-88 victory over the eighth-seeded Hawks that evened the series at three games apiece Thursday night.


Simply put, West refused to let the Pacers lose.

“When a team is making a run like that, and you’re dealing with an eight seed trying to knock off a one seed in their building, and the place is erupting on every play, it’s great to have somebody out there with that level of composure,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “He just really settled everybody down.

“He’s our rock,” Vogel added. “There’s no other way to put it.”

After losing at home for the second time in the series, Indiana faced elimination in Atlanta. When the Hawks pushed out to an 84-79 lead with just over 3 minutes remaining, cheered on by a raucous crowd that barely sat down in the second half, the Pacers‘ improbable collapse seemed complete.

That’s when West took over.

He scored four straight points, sandwiched around a huge steal, and hit two more baskets in the final minute to send the series back to Indiana for a decisive game on Saturday.

Paul George also scored 24 points for the Pacers, who have shown a willingness to change their physical, pack-the-lane style to cope with the Hawks‘ ability to spread the court.

It might be just enough to get them to the second round.

“We tried some different lineups,” West said. “Coach rolled the dice.”

While Roy Hibbert remained the starting center, he played only about 12 minutes for the second game in a row. Ian Mahinmi went nearly twice as long, giving Indiana more mobility in the lane, while C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland also got extensive minutes.

It worked. Atlanta bogged down offensively and made only 9 of 35 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Story Continues →