Shorthanded Pacers hold off Hawks
by Phillip B. Wilson, USA TODAY Sports
On a night when the Indiana Pacers played missing persons with three sidelined starters, they almost saw a 28-point, third-quarter lead disappear, too.
Atlanta shaved that seemingly insurmountable deficit to four in the final minute. Fittingly for the depleted home team, the Pacers’ backcourt fill-ins for George Hill and Lance Stephenson came up with the pivotal play.
D.J. Augustin, in for Hill at point guard, caught an unsuspecting John Jenkins near midcourt for a steal, then threw the ball to an open Gerald Green, who had started for Stephenson. The smart play with time running out called for hanging onto the ball, so coach Frank Vogel was more than surprised to see Green launch a 3-pointer from the corner.
When it went in, Vogel turned toward the bench. And smiled.
“It’s not a bad shot if it goes in,” he said after the Pacers prevailed 100-94 over the Hawks on Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Green, who led the Pacers with 19 points, wanted that shot. He said his shooting routine starts with taking that corner shot.
“It definitely was a questionable shot, I would have to agree,” Green said. “I had hit a couple of shots. I don’t know.
“I like taking those type of shots. I like taking big shots. I knew it was going to be a shot where if I hit it, it was going to put us in a good situation to win the game.”
If he had it to do over again, Green admitted he probably wouldn’t have taken the shot that gave the Pacers a seven-point cushion with 34.4 seconds to play. But this was a night with several unexpected developments, most notably the Pacers (44-27) taking apart the Hawks (39-32) with a 32-17 second quarter.
Pacers rookie reserve guard Orlando Johnson scored a career-high 15 points — all before halftime. Second-year forward Jeff Pendergraph tied his season-best with 14 points. Johnson entered with a 3.7-point average and Pendergraph was at 3.5.
“Jeff Pendergraph and Orlando Johnson in the first half really gave us a huge lift and blew the game open,” Vogel said.
The Pacers start a four-game trip Wednesday in Houston … [For more on Shorthanded Indiana Pacers hold off Atlanta Hawks, click here.]