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Mark BradleyMark Bradley

The Hawks pushed; the Pacers pushed back

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OK, so Game 2 was slightly less enjoyable. (Darron Cummings/AP)

OK, so Game 2 was slightly less enjoyable. (Darron Cummings/AP)

INDIANAPOLIS

Three observations in the wake of the Atlanta Hawks’ 101-85 loss to the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of Round 1 here Tuesday.

1. The final score doesn’t reflect it, but the Hawks again had the No. 1 seed going. They led by five points after a quarter and by 11 with eight minutes left in the half. Even after Indiana sub Luis Scola scored 13 points in 11 minutes to keep his listing team close, the Hawks still led 52-48 at the break. But then this game, like Game 1, was decided in the third quarter. The Pacers’ George Hill, who’d scored no points and made no assists in the first half, started driving to the basket. He scored 10 points in the quarter, and midway through the period Indiana inserted backup point guard C.J. Watson to play alongside Hill. The combination wore the Hawks to a frazzle. They were outscored 31-13 in the period.

2. The Hawks looked great as long as their 3-pointers were falling. They made eight of 16 first-half treys, and Kyle Korver made another to open the third quarter. Then the missing commenced. “We had a lot of open looks we normally make,” Jeff Teague said, but there’s a reason nobody shoots 50 percent — or even 40 percent — on 25-footers. They’re not easy to make. The Hawks’ next 11 treys clanked, and that was essentially that. Said Pacers forward Paul George: “We just stayed the course. We understood that those shots are going to be a little harder in the second half.”

3. For whatever reason, the Teague onslaught finally abated. The Hawks’ point guard had scored 25 points in the regular-season victory here April 6 and 28 in Game 1. He had 12 points and four assists in the first half of Game 2, and he made his first shot of the third quarter — a driving hoop inside the first two minutes. He wouldn’t score again. The Pacers believed that Hill’s surges served to tire Teague. Said George: “Make or miss, we want (Hill) to shoot and to drive. That tires Teague out.” Asked if he had in fact gotten weary, Teague’s answer was the essence of brevity. “No,” he said.

From myajc.com, our premium site: Under pressure, the Pacers blow out the Hawks.

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