AS THE FINAL seconds ticked off the clock, the Atlanta Hawks celebrated and their fans serenaded the Indiana Pacers with chants of "Overrated!"
Game 3 did nothing to change that perception.
The top-seeded Pacers are on the ropes again at the hands of the eighth-seeded Hawks, who finished six games below .500 during the regular season but truly believe they can pull off a major upset in the opening round of the playoffs.
Atlanta is playing with confidence and swagger - and even got a crucial call to go its way.
Jeff Teague flung in a wild three-pointer after the officials missed him stepping out of bounds, and Kyle Korver finished off Indiana from beyond the arc to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 98-85 victory last night and another lead in the series.
The Hawks took control in the third quarter - the decisive period in all three games - and held off the Pacers to go up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Game 4 is tomorrow in Atlanta.
The Hawks were up 84-78 with the shot clock running down when Teague launched a running shot from the wing - after his foot clipped the line.
"I knew it was a three," Teague said. "Hopefully they just count it."
They did, even after a video review. Referee Tony Brothers explained that officials took another look at the play merely to determine if Teague was behind the three-point line when he shot. There wasn't any doubt about that, and under NBA rules the only other thing they could look at was the position of Teague's feet when the ball left his hand. He was clearly in bounds when he shot.
Korver clinched the victory with the last of his four treys, putting Atlanta up 92-80 with 1:41 remaining. That was only appropriate, since the Hawks made 10 3s in the second half.
"In the second half, we came out and made some big shots," Teague said. "Everybody played well."
Teague scored 22 points and Korver added 20 to lead the Hawks, who are having their way with an Indiana team that struggled down the stretch and 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. But Paul George was held to 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting, George Hill made only 1-for-11 from the field, and Roy Hibbert continually missed shots close to the hoop.
"We have a dream of winning it all," George said. "We've got be much more tougher than that. I don't think it's there. Our toughness is questionable right now."
Hibbert is having an especially rough time, scoring only 18 points in the first three games on 7-for-25 shooting. Coach Frank Vogel was asked if he planned on making a lineup change, especially given the Pacers had more success with their 7-footer on the bench. "We're going to look at everything," Vogel said. "He has not played well in the series to this point. But we still have confidence in Roy Hibbert."
Teague made the biggest shot of all for the Hawks. Looking up to see the clock running down, he dribbled to his left and threw it up with Scola in his face. Nothing but net.
"A lot of times those plays that you draw up don't work the way that you want them to," Korver said. "You improvise and sometimes you throw stuff up as the shot clock's coming down and it goes in. I'm glad that it happened for us and not for them."
* At Memphis, Mike Conley scored five of his 20 points in overtime to help the Grizzlies to a 98-95 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is tomorrow night in Memphis.