Pacers guard George Hill advances the basketball guarded by Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague during Wednesday's game.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Home court is still holding serve with the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks.
The Pacers took a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series with the Hawks when they beat them 106-83 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday. Game 6 is on Friday in Atlanta.
David West got out of his season-long funk to lead the Pacers with 24 points. Paul George made his first seven shots and finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana. Al Horford led the Hawks with 14 points.
The Pacers and Hawks have played nine times this season and the home team has won each game.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel was outcoached by Atlanta’s Larry Drew in Games 3 and 4, so he knew something had to change.
He altered his rotation to try to neutralize Hawks forward Josh Smith. George started out on Smith, but instead of using Gerald Green, who has played poorly throughout the series, Vogel turned to Jeff Pendergraph for his size and strength. Smith was held to 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting. He picked up three fouls less than five minutes into the third quarter to give him five and send him to the bench for the rest of the quarter. He also picked up a technical foul.
Indiana finally had a good defensive game, holding the Hawks to 33 percent shooting.
The Pacers blew the game open in the third quarter. They scored 18 of the first 23 points of the period to go up 68-48 with 5:42 left in the quarter.
The Hawks wouldn’t go away, though. And it wasn’t because of their shooting in the quarter (28.6 percent). The Pacers were called for 13 fouls in the quarter, allowing the Hawks to attempt 19 free throws. They made 16 of them.
The Pacers got their lead back up to 21 midway through the fourth quarter, causing Drew to empty his bench.
NOTES: The Pacers have been in scramble mode since Drew changed up his starting lineup and put Johan Petro in to go with Smith and Horford in the frontcourt. “I’d like to speed it up even more,” Drew said. “We want to run, attack the rim and get them in an up-and-down match.” … Vogel gave his starters the option of taking Tuesday off. Lance Stephenson, George Hill, Roy Hibbert and West practiced. George decided to take the day off. George went into Game 5 averaging a series-high 40 minutes a game. “He’s a guy I think needed the rest more than anyone,” Vogel said. “I would have preferred David and George, and even Lance took the day off, but they wanted to come shoot, so I’m not going to hold them out.” … The Pacers’ public relations staff was honored by the Pro Basketball Writers Association as the NBA’s top staff for the second time in three years.
Celtics extend series with Knicks, win Game 5
NEW YORK -- The Boston Celtics used a balanced scoring attack to turn back the New York Knicks 92-86 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
The Celtics, who trail the Knicks 3-2, placed five players in double figures for the first time in the series while earning their second win in a row.
Game 6 is Friday in Boston.
Jeff Green led Boston with 18 points. He was followed by Brandon Bass and Jason Terry with 17 points apiece, and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett with 16 each. Garnett added 18 rebounds and five assists, both game highs.
Carmelo Anthony paced the Knicks with 22 points, but he made just eight of 24 shots. Raymond Felton added 21 points for New York.
J.R. Smith, the NBA’s sixth man of the year, returned after a one game-suspension and was a non-factor for the Knicks, scoring just 11 points off the bench.
Smith’s 3-pointer capped a 7-0 run that pulled the Knicks within 88-83 with 1:05 to play, but Garnett drilled a 15-foot jumper to extend Boston’s lead with 48.3 seconds left.
The Knicks closed within 85-76 with 2:43 to go, but Green nailed a wide-open 3-pointer from the right corner, giving Boston a 88-76 edge with 2:23 remaining.
The third quarter was a nightmare for Boston in the first game of the series. On Wednesday, it was a difference-maker.
The Celtics outscored New York 24-21 in the period to advance their lead to 69-60. Boston scored just 11 points in the third in Game 1, but in Game 5, Pierce took over that quarter.
Working off the dribble, Pierce netted 10 points and Terry added eight as the Celtics controlled the perimeter. The Knicks missed their last six shots of the quarter as Anthony went into a shooting funk.
The Knicks’ primary scorer in the series, Anthony was 0-for-3 from the field in the third. Felton kept it close with his distributing and scoring, getting eight points in the quarter, but he received little assistance from his teammates.
The Celtics took their first lead of the half, 34-33, on a 3-pointer from Pierce with 5:50 left in the second en route to their fourth halftime advantage in the series. Boston outscored the Knicks 11-6 after the Pierce bucket to grab the 45-39 halftime cushion.
Anthony cooled off in the second quarter, hitting just one of five shots from the field. With Kenyon Martin and Tyson Chandler in foul trouble, the Knicks had to reach down the bench for Marcus Camby, who was making his first appearance of the series.
Garnett had a solid first half with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Anthony deposited 12 first-quarter points to help the Knicks to a 22-20 edge. Pierce failed to connect on any of his six first-quarter shots from the floor.
The Knicks opened the game on an 11-0 run during the first 4:10.
NOTES: New York guard Jason Kidd received the NBA’s Sportsmanship of the Year award for the second straight season. Kidd had no points and no assists in 21 minutes Wednesday. … The Celtics committed 15 turnovers to the Knicks’ eight, continuing the series-long trend. Boston has 82 turnovers, compared to 59 for the Knicks. … Boston point guard Avery Bradley has more turnovers (10) than assists (seven) in the series. He had four points, no assists and one giveaway in Game 5. … Knicks guard Pablo Prigioni has accumulated 11 steals while playing four of the five games. … Among the celebrities sitting courtside were Ben Stiller, Whoopi Goldberg, Zach Galifianakis and Kevin Bacon.