>> There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that, after watching another sad, pathetic first-half display by the Pacers, representatives of the city of Seattle called the NBA to thank the league for denying their relocation request. Buyer beware, indeed.
>> Pacers officials might want to ask the league to think about relocating the Hawks, since they simply cannot win in Atlanta for reasons that defy explanation.
>> Thanks to Houston’s victory over Oklahoma City tonight, Game 5 will tip off at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Fox Sports Indiana will have the broadcast, sparing viewers from another bout of Mark Jones/Doris Burke. Had the Thunder won, it would’ve started at 6. This, quite naturally, makes the Rockets my mortal enemies.
>> As in Game 3, the Pacers lost this one in the first half. After starting well, building an early 21-14 lead, things fell completely apart when substitutions started. Atlanta put together a 22-3 run bridging the quarters to build a 36-24 lead, and a 13-2 run late in the half made it a 19-point margin.
>> In Game 3, the Hawks used a 42-10 run to open a 43-18 lead in the second quarter. In Game 4, the Hawks used a 43-17 run to make it 57-38 in the second quarter.
>> In two games in Atlanta, the Pacers were outscored 111-70 in the first half. They shot .301 from the field and allowed the Hawks to shoot .524.
>> Remember when the Pacers had Leandro Barbosa and Darren Collison coming off the bench, and that wasn’t good enough?
>> Unlike Game 3, the Pacers showed some gumption in the second half to at least make it competitive. By pounding the ball inside, they put together a 15-1 run in the third quarter to cut the deficit to four. It stayed close the rest of the way until the Pacers stopped pounding it inside.
>> Lance Stephenson’s layup cut it to 86-81 with 4:06 left, but Paul George missed two 3-pointers in the closing minutes. The first miss led to a 3-pointer by Josh Smith that made it 89-81, and the second created a long-rebound runout that Smith finished with a dunk to make it 96-87 with 1:07 remaining, effectively sealing the deal.
>> George put up respectable numbers with 21 points, 12 rebounds and four steals, but had four turnovers and shot 6-for-16. He also lost his matchup with Smith, who had a playoff career-high 29 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three steals. “He’s staying active, he’s staying on the boards, he’s making shots, he’s shooting the three well at home, getting to the free throw line,” George said of Smith. “He’s just playing with a lot more energy.”
>> All five starters scored in double figures. The bench totaled 19 and was outscored by 11, which just happened to be the final margin, and that was no coincidence.
>> Atlanta reserves Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver combined for 28 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the 3-point line. “Their bench guys came in and lit us up, Tolliver and Korver in particular,” Frank Vogel said. “We’ve got to do a better job being accountable for those guys, especially early so they don’t get going like they did.”
>> The Pacers are putting a lot of stock in the home court curing what ails them, and they certainly were a different team in winning the first two games. “Good thing about us, we know we play well at home,” George said. “On the road we’re still learning to get wins and to play together but at home, we feel comfortable heading back to Indiana.”
>> Of course, those first two wins came before the Hawks realized they could actually win this series, so there’s every chance they’ll be a different team, as well. “They took care of their business,” Vogel said. “We’ve got to take care of ours now back at home in Game 5.”
>> Even if the Pacers manage to win this in six or seven games, the damage has been done. The Knicks can close out the Celtics at home Wednesday night and then kick back, put their feet up and watch the Pacers and Hawks wear each other down.