Frankly, the Pacers have a lot of reasons to be looking at themselves and pointing fingers at each other. A season’s worth of work to get the top seed in the Eastern Conference has almost been completely thrown away. All the good will of the first half of the season has been spent. It is truly panic time in Indianapolis.
And it is not quite celebration time in Atlanta. But, boy, do the Hawks look like the team with the upper hand and the team that is coming together at just the right time.
Sure it took a little bit of luck. Jeff Teague beat the shot clock (after stepping out of bounds, something the referees could not review with about two and a half minutes to play) with a falling away one-handed runner 3-pointer that ended with Teague making the shot and giving a sheepish smile and shoulder shrug.
Wins are wins though and the Hawks had a complete team effort in a 98-85 win over the Pacers. Teague’s shot came at just the right time, stopping a Pacers run entering the final three minutes of play and putting things away. A few possessions later, the Hawks found Kyle Korver wide open in the corner for a 3-pointer. That iced it and a 2-1 series lead for the suddenly hot Hawks.
Teague continued to torment Indiana with 22 points and 10 assists. Korver had 20 points. The Hawks relied heavily on the 3-pointer and, despite missing 15 of their first 17, ended up hitting 12 of 34. Those threes came at the key times as Indiana never could muster the offense to make that crippling blow like it did in Game Two.
The ball got stuck and the Pacers played a lot of one-on-one ball.
Lance Stephenson ended up leading the team with 21 points. But key players and starters — Paul George, George Hill and Roy Hibbert — scored a combined 20 points (Paul George had 12 of those) on 6-for-31 shooting. George was 3 for 11 from the floor and the Pacers shot 37.6 percent.
Disaster indeed. And Indiana is nearing the brink with a must-win Game Four on Saturday.