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Pacers, Thunder move on

05/04/2014, 12:33am EDT
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

George’s 30 lead Indiana; Durant’s 33 pace OKC


The Pacers’ Paul George, front, and Roy Hibbert react to a basket on Saturday. George scored 30 points to help Indiana win Game 7. ASSOCIATED PRESS

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana salvaged its season Saturday by reverting to form: its first-half form.

Paul George scored a career playoff-high 30 points, Lance Stephenson added 19 and Roy Hibbert finally came up big against the more nimble Atlanta Hawks as the Pacers survived a first-round scare with a 92-80 victory in the decisive seventh game.

Two days after staving off elimination in Atlanta, the top-seeded Pacers did it again and advanced to a second-round series against Washington that starts Monday in Indiana.

"We know what we want to get to and we know what our journey is," George said.

Though they have a quick turnaround, at least the Pacers get a brief respite from the problems and distractions that lingered during the series.

Indiana twice gave away home-court advantage by losing Games 1 and 5. Those losses sparked public debate about what needed to change in the offseason and whether coach Frank Vogel would even return if the Pacers became the sixth No. 1 seed to lose in the first round since the league went to its current 16-team playoff format.

Atlanta's spread offense and 3-point shooters had Indiana's normally stout defense scrambling for answers after the Hawks took a 3-2 lead Monday night.

Hibbert, an All-Star center, was a non-factor with just 20 points in the first six games combined.

George spent the week dealing with a burglary at his home and the possibility of a Game 7 suspension. None of it mattered Saturday.

George sparked the two biggest runs of the game, finished 11 of 23 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds for a league-leading sixth double-double in the playoffs.

Indiana's regular starters won back-to-back games for the first time since mid-March, rallying from a 3-2 deficit to win a series for the first time in franchise history.

"We know that when he is locked in offensively, his defense is off the charts. That's when he becomes special," George said of Hibbert. "I thought he was very special for us."

The Pacers got back to using their size advantage, beating Atlanta 55-38 on the glass, yet still found a way to limit the Hawks to 11 of 44 from 3-point range. The 44 attempts broke the NBA's single-game playoff record (42) set by Dallas in a double-overtime game in May 2003.

The Hawks twice cut the deficit to eight late in the third, but George opened the fourth with six straight points in a 9-1 run. Atlanta never got closer than 10 again.

THUNDER 120, GRIZZLIES 109

OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant scored 33 points, Russell Westbrook had a triple-double, and Oklahoma beat Memphis in Game 7 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Westbrook had 27 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds. His assist total tied the franchise record for a playoff game set in 1987 by Nate McMillan when the team was still in Seattle.

The gritty Grizzlies, playing without leading scorer Zach Randolph because of a suspension, led by 11 points in the first half before the Thunder overwhelmed them and shot 66 percent after the break.

Marc Gasol led Memphis with 24 points. Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley had 20 points and nine assists while playing with a strained right hamstring.

It was Westbrook's second triple-double in the past three games. He made 10 of 16 shots from the field, both of his 3-pointers and five of his six free throws.

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