Only five times in NBA history has a No. 8 seed upset a No. 1 seed and Atlanta would look to put a stranglehold on the best-of-seven series when they host game four on Saturday
Atlanta Hawks’ Jeff Teague made the biggest shot of the game with a timely assist from the officials.
Teague had 22 points, including a late controversial triple along with 10 assists, and the eighth-seeded Hawks beat the visiting top-seeded Indiana Pacers, 98-85 on Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference opening-round playoff series.
The Hawks led 84-78 when Teague skipped along the left sideline before knocking down an off-balance runner over Luis Scola just before the shot clock expired for a nine-point advantage with 2 minutes 47 seconds left to play.
Teague smiled, shrugged his shoulders and threw up his hands as he got back on defence.
“I knew it was a 3,” Teague said. “Hopefully, they just count it.”
Teague sank four free throws around Kyle Korver’s fourth 3-pointer of the night made it 94-80 with 1:33 left, and the underdog Hawks moved a step closer to eliminating the Pacers from the post-season.
Korver had 20 points, DeMarre Carroll added 17 while Paul Millsap finished with 14 and as many rebounds for the Hawks, who have taken 15 of the last 17 home meetings in the series since December of 2006.
Lance Stephenson had 21 points with 13 rebound while Scola netted 17 for the Pacers, who shot a frosty 38 per cent from the field.
However, All-Stars Paul George struggled for 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting and slumping Roy Hibbert scored just four.
“We have a dream of winning it all,” said George. “We’ve gotta be much more tougher than that. And I don’t think it’s there. Our toughness is questionable right now.”
Memphis Grizzlies 98, Oklahoma City Thunder 95 (OT)
Mike Conley scored five of his 20 points in overtime, Courtney Lee hit three free throws in the final 10.9 seconds, and the Grizzlies regrouped to turn back the visiting Thunder for a 2-1 lead in their opening round Western Conference playoff series.
LA Clippers 98, Golden State Warriors 96
Blake Griffin scored 32 points, DeAndre Jordan added 14 with a playoff franchise-tying record 22 rebounds, and the visiting third-seeded Clippers escaped the sixth-seeded Warriors to take a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference opening-round series.