Before that shot, the Pacers were fast-tracking themselves to another heartbreaking loss, with a seven point lead heading into the fourth quarter turning into a 96-90 Atlanta advantage with just under two minutes remaining. A game of runs appeared to be turning against Indiana late, with the Hawks exploding into the lead on an 11-2 run.
But Robinson managed to cap off a solid game with the game winner, finishing with 11 points and four rebounds. Robinson made himself useful as a 3 & D specialist today, getting all three of his field goals from behind the arc and putting himself in solid position rebounding. He even soared his way for a monster block against Tim Hardaway Jr.
Robinson’s energy was at another level in the second half as he went back and forth trash talking with Hardaway. Hardaway scored a team high 24 for Atlanta, exploding in the second half. It made McMillan’s decision to sit Robinson for much of the fourth a perplexing one given how the two former Michigan teammates were going at it, but it paid dividends returning him to action in the final two minutes for the win.
Indiana’s ability to chip away at the six point deficit in the final 90 seconds erased a lot of potential doom and gloom that loomed. The Pacers had just nine fourth quarter points to that point, unable to match wits with a more physical Hawks team. Even Paul George, the team’s lights-out leader to that point, hadn’t scored at all in the fourth quarter.
George wouldn’t score in the fourth, but the win keeps his tremendous effort from holding a “yeah, but” asterisk. George had 34 points, all through three quarters, and was the reason Indiana were able to make a game of it at all. The Hawks jumped out to a 9-0 lead, and George’s 24 first half points lifted a poor shooting effort from the rest of the team, allowing them to lead for much of the second half.
George finished 6-9 from three point range on a night the Pacers found their range. Indiana finished 15-33 from deep, while the Hawks shot well early and late, but poorly in between, finishing just 9-27. At the free throw line, however, the Pacers nearly gave the game away, shooting a dreadful 12-21, including three separate 0-2 trips.
Fortunately for the Pacers, the Hawks didn’t shoot much better, going 19-31 themselves, but the Hawks were able to hold that edge along with a 36-24 advantage in the paint, and came up with 11 offensive rebounds, scoring eight second chance points in the second half to help them climb back in the game.
Jeff Teague was part of lifting the Pacers after a woeful first quarter, scoring 16 points and dishing six assists while C.J. Miles scored 13 points with three three pointers. George’s effort was big in a lot of ways, especially in covering up the struggles of Thaddeus Young (who has no shot right now with his wrist injury) and Myles Turner (who struggled with foul trouble and matching up with Dwight Howard).
Rakeem Christmas was limited with foul trouble himself, opening the door for Al Jefferson, who had four points. Even Monta Ellis was a mess early, with turnovers and missed free throws playing into Indiana’s double figure deficit, but he came up with a crucial three pointer of his own to halt a surging Hawks team in the third.
All in all, the Pacers didn’t piece together a 48-minute game, but played well enough to come up with a much needed win. The win not only gives Indiana a one game edge over Chicago for 6th, but keeps the 5th seed alive, as the Pacers sit just two games back of Atlanta. It also gives Indiana an opportunity to play for a winning road trip as they face the Charlotte Hornets tomorrow night, so long as the extra few hours will minimize the second night of a back-to-back hangover.