Final Score: Indiana 92, Atlanta 80
Indianapolis, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - From nearly suspended to the Game 7 hero, Paul George did it all for the Indiana Pacers.
George had 30 points and 11 rebounds and the Pacers routed the Atlanta Hawks, 92-80, on Saturday to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for a third straight year.
"Once my mid-range started to go, I really felt confident coming off screens and shooting the ball tonight," George said.
George was 11-of-23 from the floor for Indiana, which will face the fifth- seeded Washington Wizards in the next round. Game 1 of that set is Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers were almost without their superstar forward after he took a few steps on to the court during a skirmish between teammate George Hill and the Hawks' Mike Scott in Game 6.
Traditionally, that has warranted a suspension, but a slight change in the language of the rule probably kept George from missing this critical contest.
It was the first time in the series that a team won back-to-back games.
Indiana finally brought the defensive intensity that helped it to the Eastern Conference's best record, especially during a game-changing 14-2 run to close the first half.
The Hawks missed 14 of their final 15 shots of the half and went scoreless for a 5:54 stretch at one point in the second. The Pacers took an 11-point margin into the break and cruised to the easy win over the final 24 minutes.
Roy Hibbert ended a 128-minute, 47-second pointless drought with a putback layup at the 8:24 mark of the first -- his first points since the second quarter of Game 4. He had eight of his 13 points in the opening frame.
Lance Stephenson posted 19 points and 14 rebounds, while Hill added 15 points and five boards in the triumph.
Kyle Korver netted 19 points, Jeff Teague put in 16 and Paul Millsap tallied 15 points and 17 rebounds for the Hawks, who were the only playoff team with a losing record during the regular season (38-44).
"We weren't able to find a way to have the success that we all wanted," Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Proud of our group, proud of our effort."
Atlanta shot just 30.4 percent (28-of-92) from the floor.
After Teague's pull-up jumper staked Atlanta to a 34-33 edge midway through the second, its final field goal of the half, Indiana closed the half on its elongated surge. George had eight points during the burst, which was capped when Stephenson split a pair of free throws for a 47-36 Indiana advantage.
On the final play of the half, Teague drove the paint with a head of steam and leapt off his left leg before cocking his right hand back for a potential dunk. But Ian Mahinmi met him up top for the block.
Hill poured in seven points during a 10-0 push during the early stages of the third, including a three-point play to cap it and further extend the cushion to 57-40.
The Hawks pulled within 71-63 at the end of three, but Indiana began the fourth on a 9-1 spurt to pull away for good.
Earlier, Indiana committed five early turnovers as Atlanta raced out to a 12-7 margin, but the hosts scored the final seven points of the opening frame and took a 24-23 edge into the second.
Indiana hosted its first Game 7 since the 1974 ABA West semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs ... The Hawks were attempting to become the sixth eighth seed to win a first-round series, joining the 1994 Denver Nuggets, 1999 New York Knicks, 2007 Golden State Warriors, 2011 Memphis Grizzlies and 2012 Philadelphia 76ers ... Indiana shot 47.1 percent (33-of-70) from the field.
05/03 22:11:11 ET
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