Poor shooting and spotty defense spelled disaster on the road again for the Atlanta Hawks, as the Indiana Pacers will take a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 in Atlanta on Friday.
Led by George Hill with 24 points and Paul George with 21 points and 10 rebounds, the Pacers got back to their winning ways in their home arena, and pushed the Hawks to the brink of elimination with a 106-83 drubbing.
Josh Smith sat out much of the third quarter due to foul trouble, and tallied just 14 points on 5-16 shooting in 26 minutes. Al Horford also struggled from the floor at 5-14, but he did manage to add 14 points and 9 rebounds. Jeff Teague had the roughest shooting night of all in his 34 minutes, shooting an abysmal 3-16 from the field for a total of 7 points.
For the second game in a row, the third quarter saw the wheels fall off for the Hawks. Down just 7 points at the half, Atlanta had their best offensive output of the game, but also had their worst defensive effort in the third frame, getting outscored 31-24 in the quarter and seemingly losing control the game.
As part of the slide, Smith and Teague were assessed technical fouls, and Smith picked up his fifth personal foul. Smith was pulled from the floor with just under 7:30 left in the 3rd quarter, and did not see any action until late enough in the 4th that the game was already in hand for the Pacers.
The Hawks shot a paltry 3-14 from behind the arc and three-point specialist Kyle Korver went just 1-3 from distance, scoring most of his 10 points from the free throw line (5-5).
Indiana dominated the Hawks on the glass as well, out-rebounding the visitors by a staggering 23 boards with a 51-28 margin. Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson just missed double-doubles with 18 points and 9 rebounds for Hibbert to go along with 8 points and 12 rebounds for Stephenson.
To lead the way for Indiana, star wing Paul George put up a 21-point (on 7-8 shooting), 10-rebound double-double, and George Hill also recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 assists.
The series shifts back to Atlanta for Game 6 on Friday night, and fortunately, Philips Arena has been a house of horrors for Indiana. The Hawks have won 13 straight against the Pacers in building, including both games in this series, and it will be the ultimate must-win for Atlanta. Stay tuned.