Pacers rally to beat Hawks level NBA playoff series

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Paul George scored 24 points, including a late three-pointer in a key Indiana run, and the Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks 91-88 to level their NBA playoff series.

David West added 18 points and George Hill contributed 15 while George also grabbed 10 rebounds as visiting Indiana deadlocked the best-of-seven opening-round matchup at two wins each.

“It was one of those games we have to do whatever it takes to win,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel.

“I thought our offensive motor improved. Nineteen fast-break points might have been more than we’ve had in two months.

“Our guys got out and played with force and we’re pretty good when we do that.”

In the other East playoff contest Saturday, LeBron James had 30 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and the Heat rolled to a 98-85 win over the Charlotte Bobcats to grab a 3-0 series lead.

The top-seeded Pacers, who have a home-court edge throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, will play host to game five on Monday with game six back in Atlanta on Thursday.

An 11-2 Pacers run capped by three-pointers from George and West gave Indiana a four-point edge with 90 seconds remaining.

George missed two late free throws with a chance to boost Indiana’s final margin, but Macedonian big man Pero Antic missed a potential tying three-pointer for the Hawks at the final buzzer.

Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 29 points while Kyle Korver added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Hawks, who outscored Indiana 26-13 in the second quarter on the way to a 48-42 half-time lead.

James’ Heat put the Bobcats on the brink of elimination and can wrap up the series with a win in game four on Monday.

Two-time reigning NBA champs Miami took the lead for good with a 23-7 run late in the second quarter and led by double digits throughout the second half.

James was 10-for-18 from the floor, nine-for-10 on free throws and scored 28 of his 30 points in the first three quarters.

“That greatness, we don’t take it for granted,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

“He does it on a nightly basis. Sometimes he makes it look easy. He reads the game extremely well — when to be aggressive, when to turn it up and make plays and try to get into the paint.”

Charlotte is the only current NBA franchise without a postseason win, falling to 0-7.

Saturday also marked four years to the day since their last playoff game at home, a loss to Orlando that eliminated them from the 2010 postseason.