Atlanta and Memphis both capitalized on a return to their home courts by beating their more-fancied opponents on Thursday to take 2-1 leads in their NBA first-round playoff series, while the Los Angeles Clippers won a nail-biter to also go up 2-1.
Atlanta beat Indiana 98-85 to stay ahead in the series against the Eastern Conference top seed, while Memphis beat Oklahoma City 98-95 in overtime to also seize the initiative in the series. The Clippers edged Golden State 98-96 in Oakland to also go up 2-1.
Atlanta continued to play well above the standard expected of a No. 8 seed, particularly one that finished the regular season with more losses than wins.
The Hawks did appear to get some advantage from the officials, When they were up 84-78 with the shot clock running down, Jeff Teague hit an improbable running 3-pointer from the sideline. His foot appeared to touch the line, putting him out of bounds, but it was allowed to stand even after a video review.
Kyle Korver clinched it with the last of his four 3-pointers, putting Atlanta up 92-80 with 1:41 remaining.
Teague scored 22 points and Korver added 20 to lead the Hawks, who are playing with confidence and swagger against an Indiana team that is still scrambling to regain the form it showed much of the season. Lance Stephenson led the Pacers with 21 points, and Luis Scola added 17 in another stellar performance off the bench that at least gave Indiana hope. But Paul George was held to 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting, George Hill made only 1-of-11 from the field, and Roy Hibbert continually missed close to the hoop.
MEMPHIS SNEAK AHEAD
Memphis won its second straight overtime game after blowing a fourth-quarter lead, beating Oklahoma City 98-95. This time, they led by 17 before going cold for most of the final 7:43 of regulation. Still, they regained momentum in overtime, when Mike Conley scored five of his 20 points and Courtney Lee clinched the win, hitting three of four free throws in the final 10.9 seconds of OT.