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(Thursday, May 1st)
Final Score: Indiana 95, Atlanta 88
Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - David West made sure the Indiana Pacers' championship dreams didn't die yet, tallying 12 fourth-quarter points to lead the Eastern Conference's top seed to a 95-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that forced a Game 7 of this quarterfinal series.
West finished with 11 rebounds and six assists to go along with 24 points, two of which came on a contested runner with 46.5 seconds left that broke an 85-85 deadlock.
The clutch basket was part of a 16-4 run over the final three minutes that kept the Pacers alive after dropping three of the first five meetings of the series, and set up a winner-take-all showdown Saturday in Indianapolis. West netted eight points during the decisive surge.
"We wanted to extend our season," he said. "I thought we did a great job just closing the show."
Paul George rose to the occasion as well, putting up 24 points and eight rebounds in the season-saving result. Lance Stephenson added 21 points and nine rebounds for Indiana.
George scored nine points during the pivotal fourth quarter, during which the Pacers outscored the Hawks by a 31-21 count.
Atlanta received 29 points from Jeff Teague and a monster 16-point, 18-rebound effort out of Paul Millsap, but couldn't maintain its success from the 3-point line that propelled them to Monday's 107-97 triumph in Game 5.
The Hawks knocked down 15-of-27 attempts from beyond the arc in the previous matchup, but went just 9-of-35 in failing to close out the series.
Atlanta, the lone entry in this year's playoffs with a losing record during the regular season, appeared on the verge of becoming only the sixth No. 8 seed to take down a No. 1 in the opening round after Teague scored on consecutive possessions to give his team an 84-79 lead with 3:16 to go.
The Hawks turned it over on their next trip, though, after West buried two free throws, and the veteran forward sank a jumper from the elbow before George Hill converted a layup off a screen that put Indiana up 85-84 with just under two minutes remaining.
Atlanta's Pero Antic made 1-of-2 from the line to tie it, but the Pacers' Ian Mahinmi pulled down a key rebound off a George miss to set up West's go-ahead basket in the final minute.
"Down the stretch I was talking to Paul, said it's got to be him or me," said West.
George then came up with a big steal of Lou Williams on the ensuing possession and was fouled with 33.8 seconds left. He hit both bonus attempts for an 89-85 lead which quickly swelled to eight points, as the Hawks continued to miss shots down the stretch and the Pacers kept on making free throws.
"Man, we gave this one away," Millsap remarked. "We gift-wrapped it and now we've got to go in and take our gift back."
Indiana ended the game a sharp 23-of-27 from the charity stripe.
Atlanta was down by nine points just past the midway stage of the third quarter and trailed 61-54 with three minutes left in the period, but Teague directed a 13-3 run to close out the frame. The dangerous point guard accounted for eight points -- including the last six -- of the spurt, and sent the Hawks into the fourth owning a 67-64 edge with a buzzer-beating runner in the lane.
The Pacers, who have trailed by double digits in every game of this series, fell behind once again early on after getting off to yet another slow start, but later stepped up their play on both ends to take a 49-44 advantage into intermission -- their first halftime lead of these playoffs.
Their margin grew to 57-48 halfway through the third quarter following a stretch of six straight points.
Indiana put forth a 14-2 run that overlapped the first and second quarters to turn a 20-11 deficit into a three-point edge, and the clubs traded the lead four more times before the Pacers began to create a little distance behind their trademark strong defense.
Atlanta shot a shaky 33 percent in the second quarter and went 2-for-10 from 3-point range for the period, which included a scoreless stretch of close to four minutes that helped the Pacers own a 41-35 differential with under a minute to go in the half.
Indiana went through a cold spell of its own during the game's initial stages, missing six straight shots during a 12-0 Atlanta surge that put the Hawks up 15-5 less than seven minutes in.
Struggling Indiana center Roy Hibbert did not score for a second straight game, missing his only field goal attempt and fouling four times in just 12- plus minutes ... The Hawks ended 21-of-24 from the foul line but shot just 35.8 percent from the floor ... Hill and Atlanta's Mike Scott were both assessed technical fouls for a shoving match near the end of the first half ... The Pacers are 0-10 all-time when trailing a series 3-2.
05/01 23:16:56 ET
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