Pacers 81, Hawks 73

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ATLANTA -- The Indiana Pacers brought the energy and the inside game to Game 6, beating the Atlanta Hawks 81-73 Friday night at Philips Arena to close out their first-round playoff series four games to two.
The Pacers now advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals to play the New York Knicks, who eliminated the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
Roy Hibbert broke through the mental barrier of a Pacers' winless streak in Atlanta that had reached 13 games until Friday night. Hibbert scored 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Indiana's George Hill had 21 points and seven rebounds, and David West added 21 points -- 10 in the third quarter -- and eight rebounds. Lance Stephenson compiled eight points, 11 rebounds and six assists.
The Hawks' co-captains, Al Horford and Josh Smith, each had only four points at halftime. Horford finished with 15 points and seven rebounds while Smith ended with 14 points and nine rebounds. Devin Harris scored 14 points and Kyle Korver added 12 points.
Hawks coach Larry Drew met separately with Jeff Teague Thursday, impressing upon him that scoring was only part of his role. Drew urged Teague to be aggressive, but Teague was unable to produce, finishing with 10 points and only two assists.
In a sluggish second quarter, the Pacers mustered 16 points on 7-for-22 shooting. The Hawks scored only nine points on 1-for-15. The crowd was booing as the Hawks missed open shot after open shot.
The Pacers went to the locker room at halftime up 37-29. The eight-point lead was the largest either team had had at halftime as the visiting team.
The Pacers had to have been pleased to be up 21-20 after the first quarter. Earlier in the series, the Hawks had made runs at the start of the second quarter in Games 3 and 4.
But on Friday, the Hawks couldn't buy a basket. They went scoreless from 10:52 to 5:08 in the period. Much had to do with the Pacers, who kept the Hawks' transition game in check by easily beating Atlanta back on defense.
The Hawks also missed their first two shots of the second half, finally scoring on a goaltending call at 9:38 in the third quarter.
The Pacers were on a 19-4 run halfway through the quarter. Drew was imploring his players. "This is gut-check time!"
But the Hawks had nothing and the Pacers built a 19-point lead.
To their credit the Hawks didn't throw in the towel, creeping back to trail 69-58 at 9:10 in the fourth quarter. Suddenly, they awoke and narrowed the gap to 73-68 on a 16-4 run with 4:02 left in the game.
The Hawks got as close as 78-73 with 47 seconds left.
NOTES: Drew said before the game that the adjustments the Pacers made in Game 5, which Indiana won 106-83 on their home court, didn't affect his team. "We just have to be better," Drew said, "at some of the things we need to do." ... Drew said he had emphasized to his players not to put too much pressure on themselves, not to look ahead to a Game 7 on the road and give all of their attention to Game 6. "Game 7 is not important right now," he said. Drew couldn't recall ever having been part of a series where the home-court advantage was so pronounced. "That's why home court is so important," he said. "You play with a little more juice, I think." ... Pacers coach Frank Vogel had no adjustments to announce before the game. "In terms of things the series hasn't seen yet," he said, "we're probably beyond that." What he was happiest about, he said, is that "I think our guys are finally understanding how to guard them. It took a couple games to get there, obviously had to make some adjustments when they made their adjustments. Now it's about doing it." ... Vogel packed three suits for the trip and told his players to pack for six days. "You asked me if there was a psychological move to tell the team to pack for six days," he said. "It's practical."

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