By Michael Marot
The Associated Press
Gerald Green scored 19 points, and Roy Hibbert finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds Monday night, leading the short-handed Indiana Pacers past the Atlanta Hawks, 100-94.
The Pacers (44-27) extended their Central Division lead to five games over second-place Chicago with 11 games to play. And they did it despite playing without Danny Granger, George Hill, Lance Stephenson or David West. All four sat out with injuries.
They also won on a night that Atlanta (39-32) could have clinched a playoff spot.
Josh Smith led the Hawks with 20 points, and Al Horford had 13 points and eight rebounds, not nearly enough against the revamped and focused Pacers.
Indiana took control by opening the second quarter on a 25-9 spurt that turned a 26-all tie into a 51-35 lead. Atlanta closed to 94-90 late in the fourth but couldn’t get any closer.
Everyone had a hand in this Indiana win.
Hibbert was strong on both ends of the court. Backup forward Jeff Pendergraph scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half. Tyler Hansbrough, West’s replacement, finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. And Green, who replaced Stephenson in the lineup, put together some more highlight-reel shots, including the 3-pointer with 34 seconds left that finally ended the Hawks’ late rally.
Indiana shot 58.5 percent from the field in the first half and dominated the game until committing 10 fourth-quarter turnovers.
Indiana opened the second quarter on a 12-5 run to make it 38-31 and followed that by scoring 13 of the next 15 points. The Pacers led by as much as 58-38 before giving up the last five points of the half to lead by 15 at the break.
The Hawks got into even deeper trouble early in the second half. Indiana opened the third quarter on a 17-5 run, which made it 75-48 with 5:56 to go.
Atlanta finally rallied in the fourth with its entire starting lineup on the bench. After trailing 85-63 after three, the Hawks opened the fourth on a 14-2 run to close the deficit to 87-77 and used a late 9-0 spurt to get within 94-90 when John Jenkins made two free throws with 1:07 to go.
But after Indiana grabbed an offensive rebound and forced a turnover off a second missed shot, Green hit the 3 from the left corner to seal the victory.
Notes: Indiana and Atlanta finished the regular season by splitting their four-game series with the home team winning each game. ... Atlanta could have clinched a playoff spot in the East with a win and a 76ers loss. ... Indiana now embarks on a four-game West Coast swing while the NCAA tournament’s Midwest Regional comes to Indy. ... Atlanta scored 26 points in the first quarter and 31 in the fourth but managed only 37 combined in the second and third.