Pacers forward David West reacts after making a basket Thursday against the Hawks. (Reuters)
ATLANTA — Just when it looked as if their demise were complete, the Indiana Pacers found some life.
The Pacers fought off the gritty Atlanta Hawks and an electric crowd at Philips Arena to stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 95-88 win Thursday in Game 6.
Indiana forward David West scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, and forward Paul George added 24 points and came up with a big steal in the game’s final minute to force Game 7.
The teams have alternated wins through the first six games of the first-round series. Game 7 will be Saturday in Indianapolis.
The Pacers were 41-12 at the All-Star break, but they unraveled in final months of the regular season and are in danger of becoming the sixth No. 1 seed to lose to an No. 8 seed in the first round of the playoffs.
Point guard Jeff Teague hit a jumper that put the Hawks up 84-79 with 3:13 to play, but West scored eight points in the final three minutes, and Indiana closed out the game with a 16-4 run. Teague led all scorers with 29 points.
Indiana was in control in the third quarter and had quieted the crowd before a thunderous one-handed dunk by Atlanta forward Mike Scott electrified Philips Arena and completely changed the momentum. The Hawks closed the quarter on a 13-5 run and took a 67-64 lead into the fourth quarter. Teague scored the Hawks’ last six points of the quarter, including a dazzling spin move and layup that gave Atlanta its first lead since early in the second quarter.
In a back-and-forth first half, Indiana withstood an early surge by the Hawks before grabbing the lead in the second quarter. Pacers point guard George Hill hit a deep 3-pointer as time expired on the second quarter, sending Indiana to locker room up 44-39.
Indiana forward Lance Stephenson finished the night with 21 points, and Hill added 14 points.
Atlanta forward Paul Millsap scored 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, and guard Louis Williams added 16 points.
The Hawks set a franchise record by making 15 3-pointers in their win at Indiana on Monday, but made just nine of 35 attempts from beyond the arc in Game 6.
NOTES: Indiana PG George Hill and Atlanta F Mike Scott got into a physical altercation late in the first half. Both received technical fouls. … Pacers coach Frank Vogel inserted reserve F Chris Copeland into the game in the first quarter. Copeland rewarded his coach with a 3-pointer that cut Atlanta’s lead to 22-20 at the end of the quarter. … Indiana C Roy Hibbert, who has struggled throughout the season, picked up two fouls in the first seven minutes and did not play the rest of the first half. … Actor and hip-hop artist Ludacris was among an announced sellout crowd at Philips Arena. … A moment of silence was observed before the game to honor longtime NBA coach and analyst Jack Ramsay, who died Monday. … The Hawks are in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, the longest streak in the Eastern Conference. Their last playoff series win came in 2010-11.