Hawks swoop for win over top-seeded Pacers
INDIANAPOLIS - The Atlanta Hawks surprised the top-seeded Indiana Pacers 101-93 on Saturday in the opening game of their NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
Atlanta's Jeff Teague, an Indianapolis native, scored 28 points and handed out five assists to lead the Hawks to a victory and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The other Eastern Conference game on the opening day of the post-season also saw the visitors come out on top.
Paul Pierce found his form in the final minutes, sparking the Brooklyn Nets to a 94-87 victory over the Raptors in Toronto.
The Pacers-Hawks game showcased two teams trending in opposite directions.
Although Indiana garnered the best regular-season record in the East, they hobbled into the playoffs with a 4-6 record in their final 10 games.
The Hawks, meanwhile, finished out the regular season 7-3 to secure the eighth and final playoff berth.
Atlanta seized control with a dominant third quarter, in which they outscored the Pacers 30-16.
Teague had 14 of his game-high 28 points in the third as the Hawks pulled away from a 50-50 halftime tie.
The Hawks opened the third period with an 8-0 scoring run. Teague accounted for nine points in a 14-0 spurt that stretched Atlanta's lead to 74-58 later in the quarter.
The Pacers struggled on both ends of the court, unable to get stops and shooting just 15-of-41 from the floor in the second half.
Paul Millsap added 25 points for the Hawks, while DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver chipped in 12 points apiece.
Paul George had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 19 points from Lance Stephenson.
The Pacers will try to bounce back when they host game two on Tuesday.
- Veteran experience -
In Toronto, Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Nets.
Kevin Garnett, who won an NBA crown with Pierce in Boston and joined him in being traded to Brooklyn, scored his first basket of the game with 3:38 remaining to give the Nets a 79-76 lead.
Pierce followed with a three-pointer and the 36-year-old playmaker added a layup and a pair of jumpers, scoring nine Nets points in a row as part of a game-ending 19-11 run for the triumph.
"Just veteran experience," Pierce said. "A lot of those moments could have gone either way. I thought I had the matchup and I took advantage of it."
A young Raptors lineup battled back to briefly lead in the fourth quarter before Pierce's heroics.
"I'll use my experience and leadership to help the guys," Pierce said. "We're not going to get rattled. We stayed together. We stayed calm during their runs and played together down the stretch."
Joe Johnson and Deron Williams each scored 24 points to lead the Nets.
Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 22 points while Venezuelan guard Greivis Vasquez came off the bench to score 18 for the Raptors, who host game two on Tuesday.
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