Pacers 103, Hawks 99, OT

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ATLANTA (AP)—Anthony Johnson hit the shot—then took a hit for the team.

Johnson made a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 22.6 seconds left in overtime, and the Indiana Pacers defeated the Atlanta Hawks 103-99 Saturday night.

After putting the Pacers ahead 100-97, Johnson tied up Jason Terry for an apparent jump ball. Frustrated, Terry swung his left elbow at Johnson, grazing his chin.

The officials tossed Terry from the game, and Johnson hit a couple of free throws to finish off the Hawks.

“He got upset about the jump-ball call,” said Johnson, who scored 15 points for the Pacers. “That’s what a punk would do. But we got out of here with a win, and that’s all that matters.”

Terry said he was merely trying to break free from Johnson.

“Just look at the tape. You can see clearly he was holding me,” Terry said. “It was almost like a girlfriend-type hug, and I’ve got a wife at home.”

The Pacers fell behind 14-0 at the start but rebounded to keep the Hawks winless in their home opener. Atlanta has lost three in a row to start the season, including a pair in overtime.

“Once we learn how to win some of these close games,” Terry said, “teams better look out for us.”

Ron Artest led the Pacers with 22 points, but Indiana got huge contributions from the bench. Johnson, who played parts of two seasons with the Hawks, also had six assists and two steals. Al Harrington scored 20 points. In all, the reserves outscored their Atlanta counterparts 38-8.

That didn’t even include Fred Jones, who scored 15 points as a fill-in starter. Reggie Miller sat out because of a sore lower back.

The ugly finish ruined a big night for Terry, who scored 29 points. Johnson figured the Hawks would go to their leading scorer at the end of overtime.

“I knew the ball was coming to him,” Johnson said. “I was able to get my hands on it, and they called it a jump ball. I guess he got frustrated.”

The Hawks, cheered on by a near-sellout crowd of 18,818, scored the final seven points of regulation to tie the score at 90.

Dion Glover hit a 3-pointer with 24.7 seconds left, then the Hawks got a quick foul on Harrington. He missed both free throws, setting up Atlanta for a tying basket.

Terry nearly threw the ball away, but Stephen Jackson saved it to Glover, who got open along the baseline. He sank a 17-footer with 3.6 seconds left, thumping his chest to celebrate.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored half of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Even so, it didn’t prevent the Hawks from taking another close loss.

“There’s something to the art of winning, knowing what it takes,” coach Terry Stotts said. “I hope the fans enjoyed the game. We lost, but I think it was an entertaining game.”

After a raucous opening-night ceremony featuring “American Idol” Ruben Studdard, the fired-up Hawks scored the first 14 points.

Jackson dunked off a give-and-go with Theo Ratliff, then hit two straight 3-pointers to finish off the spurt. Jackson didn’t do much the rest of the way, finishing with 16 points.

After trailing 49-35 at the half, the Pacers turned the game around in the third quarter with their best player sitting on the bench. Jermaine O’Neal played only one minute in the period, but Indiana hit 14 of 21 shots to make it 67-67.

“At halftime, we made a commitment to each other to play better,” Harrington said. “We were either going to play like men or lay down and letthem beat us.”

Notes

Steve Belkin, head of an investment group that is buying the Hawks and NHL Atlanta Thrashers, greeted fans at the main entrance to the arena before the game. … O’Neal scored 20 points but was just 6 of 12 at the foul line. Neither team did well at the line: Indiana was 21 of 37, Atlanta was 21 of 31. Terry had a surprisingly poor night, making just 7 of 13. … Indiana dominated the boards, outrebounding the Hawks 52-36. … Terry doesn’t expect to get suspended for Monday night’s game against New Orleans. “It wasn’t intentional,” he said of his swing at Johnson. “I just wanted to freemyself.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Indiana
R. Artest R. Artest
8-17,  22 Pts
12 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Atlanta
J. Terry J. Terry
10-15,  29 Pts
4 Rebs, 8 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists