Meanwhile, the Pacers’ stunning struggles showed no sign of abating.
Indiana was just 5 of 19 from the field in the decisive third quarter and shot just 35.6 percent in the second half, a 24-minute span in which it spent most of the time trying to dig out of a double-digit hole.
Paul George had 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Lance Stephenson finished with 19 points and seven rebounds and George Hill added 12 points.
But the Hawks’ ability to spread the floor essentially nullified All-Star center Roy Hibbert, who had eight points and eight rebounds, and David West, who had eight points and three rebounds.
And Indiana wasted no time in giving back the home-court advantage it spent the entire season chasing.
“It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating, but it’s a long series,” George said before explaining he believes the Pacers can regain the upper hand — if they figure out how to defend better. “It’s just one game and that’s the way we have to look at it.”
That won’t be easy against this team.
Atlanta set a franchise playoff record with 30 3-point attempts and matched the franchise’s second-highest playoff total for 3-pointers made (11). Both were set May 10, 1996, when the Hawks were 12 of 27 on 3s in a 26-point loss to Orlando.
“I thought our ball movement was great,” Kyle Korver said after scoring 12 points. “That’s one of the things we’ve tried to play to all year and tonight it kind of worked out.”
They made it look easy, too.
Korver’s buzzer-beating putback, following an Indiana turnover in the closing seconds of the first half, tied the score at 50.
Atlanta then opened the third quarter with eight straight points and when the Pacers rallied to get within 60-58, Teague and Millsap took control.