The Indiana Pacers are being tested, and doing well.
First, a win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday to move into a tie for first in the Central Division. Then, a 114-103 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.
Now the Pacers will go on Philadelphia Wednesday night for the league’s only back-to-back-to-back and will wrap up the four games in five nights week at home against Toronto on Friday.
“You definitely feel it,” Indiana’s Paul George said. “I felt it tonight, really. But once the game starts going, everything goes out the window.”
George scored a game-high 29 points along with five rebounds to lead the Pacers, who have won 15 straight games at home, their longest home streak since winning 25 straight in the 1999-00 season.
David West had 15 points and seven rebounds and George Hill added 15 points and eight assists to help the Pacers to their fourth straight victory overall to tie their longest streak of the season.
Jeff Teague had 24 points and eight assists and Al Horford had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead the Hawks, who have lost three of their last four.
The Pacers went on a 7-2 run midway through the fourth quarter. Lance Stephenson scored on a layup before Hill hit a 3-pointer with 6:28 left to play to give the Pacers a 100-84 lead, their largest advantage of the game.
“When they’re making those shots, they’re a tough team to beat,” Teague said. “David West was making shots, Paul George was making shots and Lance Stephenson was knocking down 3s.”
George made two free throws to give the Pacers a 93-80 lead before Johan Petro scored for Atlanta. Then George scored two more free throws to put the Pacers up 13 again with 7:17 left to play.
The Pacers then pulled away for good when Hill’s 3 gave Indiana its 16-point lead.
The Hawks made it hard for the Pacers to build an advantage before that.
“They’re tough,” West said. “They have versatility all over the place. They so guard heavy in terms Teague being able to control the game and we knew we were going to have our hands full.”
George hit a 3 with 2:39 left in the third quarter to put the Pacers up 75-67. The Hawks missed a layup and D.J. Augustin, who had 10 points, drove to the basket and the officials spend eight minutes reviewing the play to determine that Horford committed a flagrant foul on the play and Augustin was called for a technical.
Augustin made two free throws and John Jenkins hit the technical free throw to give the Pacers a 79-68 lead.
The Pacers led 81-70 at the end of the third quarter.
“When I look at the stat sheet, the most glaring thing is the free throws,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “We fouled way too much. From the game plan and game strategy, I thought we tried to execute the game plan, but we put them on the free throw line too many times.”
Indiana was 31 of 40 from the line. Still, Atlanta went 23 of 28.
Teague dunked off a steal at the start of the fourth quarter and George answered with a 3 to extend the lead again and Mike Scott scored on a putback to make it 84-76.
Later, Stephenson hit a 3 to give the Pacers an 89-78 lead with 9:20 left in the game.
After the Hawks jumped out to a 7-3 lead, the Pacers scored the next eight points.
Hibbert scored in the paint and later hit a jumper. Then when George missed a jumper, Hibbert grabbed the rebound and passed it under the basket to George, who scored on a reverse dunk to give the Pacers the 11-7 lead with 6:56 left in the first quarter.
Kyle Korver’s 3 gave the Hawks a 43-31 lead with 5:15 left in the second quarter.
The Pacers then went on a 13-2 run. Stephenson scored a layup and later a 3, and Hill made two free throws and a jumper. Stephenson scored two more free throws to pull Indiana to 45-44 with 2:48 left in the second quarter.
Later, Hill made 1 of 2 from the line to tie the score at 47. The Hawks missed a shot and then George hit a 3 to give the Pacers a 50-47 lead with 1:10 left in the first half.
The Pacers led 50-49 at halftime.
The Indiana Pacers are being tested, and doing well.
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