FORWARD PAUL GEORGE and the Indiana Pacers answered their doubters last night.
George scored a game-high 27 points and the Pacers defeated the visiting Atlanta Hawks, 101-85, to tie their best-of-seven first-round playoff series at one game each.
Game 3 will be played tomorrow night at Atlanta.
Forward Luis Scola, who did not score a basket in Indiana's 101-93 loss in the series opener on Saturday, came off the bench to supply 20 points. Point guard George Hill added 15 points.
"We want to build on what we've got going," Indiana forward David West said. "We want to continue to be aggressive. We know they're going to play better at home, but we're going down there to get back in charge of this series."
Forward Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 19 points. Guard Jeff Teague, who scored 28 points in the series opener, had 14 and was held to two points in the second half.
A 19-point run by the Pacers in the last 3 minutes of the third quarter and the first 3 minutes of the fourth quarter buried the Hawks. By the time the streak was over, Indiana had pulled ahead, 87-65.
And if the score rolling up quickly on the Hawks was not damaging enough, the final few seconds of the third quarter destroyed them. A block by Indiana forward Ian Mahinmi set up a fastbreak and George hit a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
The Pacers scored the last 14 points of the third quarter and the first five points of the fourth. The Hawks went 6 minutes without a basket.
* At Toronto, DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 14 rebounds for his second straight playoff double-double and the Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets, 100-95, evening their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
Joe Johnson scored 18 points, Deron Williams had 15 and Mirza Teletovic 14 for the Nets, who will host Game 3 on Friday night.
Hampered by foul trouble, Brooklyn's Paul Pierce went 2-for-11 from the field, including 0-for-6 from three-point range. He finished with seven points.
* With 5 days left for underclassmen to declar for the NBA draft, Kentucky forward Julius Randle announced that he would forgo his remaining college ability and turn pro. Projected as a lottery pick from the outset of his college career, the 6-9 Randle solidified his draft stock by leading Kentucky (29-11) to the NCAA final against Connecticut. He averaged 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds.
In another move, Clemson junior K.J. McDaniels, who led the Tigers in points, rebounds, blocks and steals, is leaving school for the NBA draft. In several NBA mock drafts, the 6-6 forward is projected as a middle-to-late selection in the first round.
* Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was named NBA Coach of the Year, taking a team still shaken by last season's NBA Finals loss to Miami and turning in a league-best 62-20 mark. Popovich also had to rebuild his staff after losing longtime assistants Brett Brown and Mike Budenholzer to head-coaching jobs in Philadelphia and Atlanta.