Pacers Top Hawks in Final Second

Al Jefferson and the Indiana Pacers trailed the Atlanta Hawks by six with less than two minutes to go on Sunday afternoon but were able to pull out a 97-96 win.

In his first game back since missing the last three due to an emergency root canal, Big Al was plus-11 with four points and eight rebounds in 13 minutes.

After calling timeout down six with 1:43 to play, Jeff Teague swished a driving floater that cut the ATL lead to four. On the other end, Atlanta’s Paul Millsap missed a short jump shot, but Kent Bazemore recovered the offensive rebound and the Hawks called timeout with 1:09 left in the game. On the ensuing play, Teague stole Millsap’s pass and got the ball to Paul George but his t3-point attempt was off. C.J. Miles was there for the offensive rebound and his putback made it a two-point game with 33 seconds left.

On the Hawks’ next possession, Tim Hardaway Jr. missed a 3-point attempt to ice the game, and Teague came down with the rebound. With eight seconds left, Teague pushed the ball upcourt to George, who drove the baseline and kicked out to Miles. Al’s post protege swung the ball to the corner, where Glen Robinson III was waiting and swished the go-ahead three.

“C.J. made a great extra pass,” Robinson told Fox Sports after the game.

The Hawks used a 14-4 run in the latter half of the opening quarter to put Al and Co in a 13-point hole with 1:31 left in the first.

The deficit remained in double digits into the second quarter, but the Pacers opened the period on an 11-2 run, and Big Al’s lay-up with 7:33 until the half cut the lead to two. The Pacers eventually seized a six-point lead late in the second, but Atlanta closed the half strong to tie the game at 50 at the break.

Out of the locker room, Indiana built its largest lead of the game thanks to a 16-5 spurt that lasted until the 7:56 mark in the third. Atlanta trimmed the deficit all the way down to two with 2:35 left in the third but were outscored by the Pacers 8-3 over the rest of the quarter. Indiana took a seven-point lead into the fourth.

The Pacers still led by three with 4:52 to play, but Hardaway Jr.’s subsequent three tied the game with 4:39 to go. Thabo Sefolosha’s three put the Hawks up by three 30 seconds later, but Myles Turner’s jumper with 2:41 remaining made it a one-point game. Atlanta then went on to score the next five, setting up Robinson III’s late heroics.

The third-best free throw shooting team in the league, the Pacers had an uncharacteristically off night at the stripe, going 12-21 for their worst percentage in a game this season. They made up for it by going 15-of-33 from behind the 3-point line.

NEXT UP

The Pacers play on the second night of a back-to-back in Charlotte against Al’s former team in the Hornets on Monday night. Tip off is at 8 p.m. EST.

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