INDIANAPOLIS — When the Indiana Pacers needed a lift. Paul George stepped up. All over the court, over and over again.
George had 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and the Pacers used a big second-half run to rally for a 101-85 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
George Hill scored each of his 15 points in the second half, helping top-seeded Indiana earn a split of the first two postseason games at home. George also had four steals and blocked a shot while helping keep Hawks point guard Jeff Teague in check.
“That’s why he was in the MVP conversation early,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “He always does those types of things, guarding the best perimeter player, rebounding the ball, deflecting the ball. His hands were all over the place. It makes him one of the most complete players in the game when he plays like he did tonight.”
The Pacers sure needed it.
For seven weeks, Indiana heard everyone question its fortitude, team chemistry, even whether it was worthy of a No. 1 seed. The complaints grew louder after Saturday’s 101-93 loss. George and his teammates spent the next 72 hours seeking solutions and defiantly insisting they would be OK.
On Tuesday, they finally reverted to their early season from.
Indiana limited the Hawks to 33 second-half points and dominated the third quarter. Next up is Game 3 on Thursday in Atlanta, where the Pacers have only two wins since December 2006 — though one of those closed out last year’s first-round playoff series in six games.
“We want to build on what we’ve got going,” Indiana forward David West said. “We want to continue to be aggressive. We know they’re going to play better at home, but we’re going down there to get back in charge of this series.”
George was 9 for 16 from the field, including a 5-for-7 performance from 3-point range. He also went 4 for 4 at the line.
Perhaps more importantly, he managed to contain Teague after he burned Indiana for 28 points in Game 1. George wanted the responsibility of guarding Teague, who had seven points in the first quarter and seven more for the rest of the game.
“I sat down and it was homework for me, just locking into his tendencies and figuring out where I will get beat or where I’m vulnerable against him,” George said. “It’s a challenge.”
George was the catalyst, but he had plenty of help.
Hill, who had been mired in an offensive funk, made 5 of 6 shots in the second half. Luis Scola, who kept the Pacers close when West got into early foul trouble, finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. The defense that gave up 11 3-pointers in Game 1 and eight more in the first half of Game 2, allowed just two over the final 24 minutes.
Toronto 100, Brooklyn 95
TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 14 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 100-95 on Tuesday night, evening their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
Amir Johnson scored 16 points and Kyle Lowry had 14 as the Raptors rebounded from a 94-87 loss in Game 1. It was Valanciunas’ second straight playoff double-double.
Joe Johnson scored 18 points, Deron Williams had 15 and Mirza Teletovic 14 for the Nets, who will host Game 3 on Friday night.
Hampered by foul trouble throughout the game, Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce went 2 for 11 from the field, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range. He finished with seven points.
Kevin Garnett scored 13 points and Shaun Livingston had 12 for the Nets, who led 66-64 heading into the fourth and couldn’t take advantage of 21 Toronto turnovers.
CHICAGO — Bradley Beal came on strong late in regulation to finish with 26 points, Nene scored six of his 17 in overtime and the Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 101-99 Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.
Washington rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter after blowing a 17-point first-quarter lead.
Nene scored the first six points in overtime after being held in check by Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in regulation, and the Wizards hung on after Kirk Hinrich failed to convert at the foul line in the closing seconds.
By wire sources