ATLANTA (AP) — Josh Smith scored 29 points as the Atlanta Hawks built a 17-point lead at halftime, then withstood an Indiana comeback over the final two quarters to even the series with a 102-91 victory in Game 4 on Monday night.
After struggling much of the second half, Smith made every big play down the stretch. He swished a rare 3-pointer, came up with an offensive rebound to set up a 3 by Kyle Korver, then finished off a fast break with a right-handed dunk.
Paul George scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half as the Pacers made a game of it but couldn’t come back from a 57-40 deficit at the break.
Tied at two wins apiece, the series returns to Indianapolis for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
Korver added 19 points off the bench, most of them coming on his specialty: the 3-pointer. He knocked down five from outside the arc, including the biggest one with 2:33 remaining after Al Horford threw up a wild shot that missed. Smith snatched one of his 11 rebounds and spotted Korver lurking all alone on the outside.
Horford chipped in with 18 points.
Indiana was better offensively but still struggled to make shots, finishing at 38 percent on a 32-of-84 performance. George came alive after halftime, connecting three times from beyond the stripe, while every other starter was in double figures.
It wasn’t enough.
The Hawks beat Indiana for the 13th straight time at Philips Arena, a streak that dates to 2006. But the Pacers can take solace with not having to win in Atlanta, as long as they take care of business on their home court.
Then again, Indiana must be wondering how the series got to this point after the Pacers dominated the first two games in their building, averaging 110 points and a 16-point margin of victory.
The Hawks turned the momentum with a 90-69 blowout in Game 3, then did enough good things in the first half to get the series back where it started as they return to the heartland.
The Pacers played with much more effort than they did Saturday, but it didn’t matter in the second quarter. Not with the Hawks gunning away from the outside — they went 7 of 8 from 3-point range in the period — and running the court with so much abandon that coach Larry Drew had to call a 20-second timeout late in the first half just to allow his players to catch their breath.
Atlanta appeared on the way to a second straight blowout. Not so fast.
Indiana turned up the defensive pressure and the Hawks began playing a little too loose with the ball. The Pacers ripped off a 15-1 spurt that nearly wiped out an 18-point deficit, holding Atlanta without a field goal for a good chunk of the third quarter. After Horford’s dunk with 10:05 left in the period, the Hawks didn’t make another basket until Devin Harris’ nifty dash from one end of the court to the other for a layup with 1:34 remaining.
Atlanta was able to stick with its big lineup after 7-foot center Johan Petro dashed back from Miami on a private jet sent by the team owners after witnessing the birth of his first child. Jacob Petro was born about 2 p.m., then his father headed to the airport and made it to Phillips Arena about two hours before tipoff.
If the birth had taken longer, Petro was planning to stay in south Florida. Instead, he played 22 minutes with hardly any sleep the past two days, contributing four points and eight rebounds.
Atlanta dealt with an old bugaboo in the second half: free throw shooting. At one point, the Hawks had made just 8 of 18 before Horford knocked down five of six to make the percentage look a little more respectable. Still, they finished 25 of 38 at the line, squandering a chance to put the Pacers away earlier.
Notes: Smith appeared to be standing even farther behind the line than usual on free throws. It didn’t help his percentage, as he made 9 of 16. … Harris was late coming back out for the third quarter. Apparently suffering from dehydration, he took an IV in the locker room as a precaution before returning to the game midway through the period.
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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.