Hawks halt Cavs in battle of Eastern powers
ATLANTA, March 7
The Atlanta Hawks underscored their status as the top team in the NBA Eastern Conference on Friday with a 106-97 triumph over the star-studded Cleveland Cavaliers.
Al Horford led six Atlanta players in double figures with 19 points as the Hawks beat the Cavaliers for the third time in four meetings this season.
It was the final regular-season clash between the two teams considered by many to be the best in the East.
With the win the Hawks are the only team in the league to beat Cleveland three times in this campaign.
But even though it could have been a preview of the Eastern Conference finals, Atlanta’s Kyle Korver insisted the Hawks weren’t trying to send a message. “There is no statement win,” Korver said. “It’s a good win. We’ll learn from it, as we keep saying about every game.
“There is no statement win in the regular season.” Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague scored 16 points apiece. Millsap also chipped in eight rebounds and Horford grabbed nine to go with six assists.
The Hawks reserves were also solid. Dennis Schroder scored 15 points with eight assists and Mike Scott contributed 14 points in 17 minutes.
Atlanta forced 18 turnovers, including nine from LeBron James, who shot just 5-of-13 from the floor in scoring 18 points.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 20 points, while Kevin Love added 14 with eight rebounds.
The playoff-bound Hawks led by 17 in the first quarter. The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 12 early in the third, before taking their first lead in the period.
The Hawks, however, dominated the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to pull away.
After Schroder’s driving layup with 30.2 seconds to go in the third snapped a 79-79 tie, Atlanta began the fourth on a 17-4 scoring run that put the game out of Cleveland’s reach.
Korver drained a pair of three-pointers in the run, and Schroder connected from long range before Scott capped the surge with a jump shot that made it 98-83 with 6:50 to play.
Cleveland never got closer than nine points the rest of the way, connecting on just 5-of-17 from the floor in the fourth.
The Hawks outscored the Cavaliers by a 54-24 margin in the paint as Cleveland endured their fifth straight loss in Atlanta.
Pacers hold off charging Bulls 98-84
INDIANAPOLIS, March 7
They still are seven games below .500, but with 10 victories in their past 12 games, the Indiana Pacers finally are starting to feel good about themselves.
Forward Solomon Hill had 16 points and center Ian Mahinmi added 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Pacers to a 98-84 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
For Indiana (27-34), it was a season-best fourth consecutive victory and the second time the Pacers have beaten the Bulls (39-24) in three tries this season.
Indiana pulled away, outscoring the Bulls 32-18 in the final 12 minutes.
It was only the second double-double for Mahinmi, although he has had 10 rebounds or more eight times this season. Indiana out rebounded Chicago 51-44.
A 3-pointer from guard C.J. Miles with 5:49 remaining gave Indiana an 82-74 lead, and a jumper by guard Rodney Stuckey with 3:18 to go extended the advantage to 87-76.
Stuckey finished with 12 points, guard C.J. Watson added 11 and forward David West had 10 points and 10 rebounds, his fifth double-double this season.
Center Pau Gasol led the Bulls with 18 points and 10 rebounds, reserve forward Doug McDermott had 16 points and forward Mike Dunleavy added 14 points and nine rebounds.
Indiana shot 42.5 percent from the field and limited Chicago to 36 percent shooting.
The Pacers now have limited opponents to 86 points or fewer and less than 40 percent field-goal shooting in each game of the four-game winning streak. In this 10-2 sequence, Indiana has lost only to San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
Indiana scored the first eight points of the third quarter, getting 3-pointers from Solomon Hill and guard George Hill sandwiched around a basket from West to lead 53-42 with 9:24 to go in the quarter, prompting a Chicago timeout.
With Dunleavy making two long 3-pointers, the Bulls came right back with a 12-2 run, slicing the Indiana lead to 55-54 with 6:06 left in the third quarter.
McDermott’s tip-in of a missed shot at the third-quarter buzzer tied the score at 66 with 12 minutes to play.
The Pacers got nine points from Solomon Hill and seven from Watson on their way to building a 45-42 halftime lead, outscoring the Bulls 11-5 from the free throw line during the first 24 minutes.
Indiana led 18-6 early and 23-20 through 12 minutes, but McDermott scored 12 second-quarter points, helping Chicago lead briefly in the second quarter. Indiana finished the second quarter on a 7-2 run to regain the lead.
Gasol added 10 points and seven rebounds during the first half for Chicago, which shot only 39.1 percent from the field (18 of 46) during the first two quarters. The Pacers shot 41 percent (16 of 39) in the opening half.
Chicago won the battle of the boards 24-23 before intermission. Each team scored seven points as the result of the other’s turnovers.