Josh Smith scored 29 points as the Atlanta Hawks built a 17-point lead at halftime, then withstood an Indiana comeback over the final two quarters to even the series with a 102-91 victory in Game 4 on Monday night.
After struggling much of the second half, Smith made every big play down the stretch. He swished a rare 3-pointer, came up with an offensive rebound to set up a 3 by Kyle Korver, then finished off a fast break with a right-handed dunk. Paul George scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half as the Pacers made a game of it but couldn’t come back from a 57-40 deficit at the break. The series returns to Indianapolis for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
Brook Lopez had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Deron Williams added 23 points and 10 assists, and the Nets cut the Bulls’ lead to 3-2 in their first-round playoff series.
Andray Blatche scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and Gerald Wallace had consecutive baskets down the stretch as the Nets finally pulled away in a game they led most of the way, but never by too much. Two days after rallying for a 142-134 triple-overtime victory, the Bulls were outscored 15-1 down the stretch and failed to set up a second-round series with Miami.
The Houston Rockets escaped elimination with a 105-103 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night.
Chandler Parsons scored 27 points and Patrick Beverley added 16 points with point guard Jeremy Lin out with a bruised chest muscle. Houston avoided a four-game sweep in the best-of-seven series. The Rockets led in the fourth quarter of each of the last two games only to end up losing. And it almost happened again Monday.
Kevin Durant scored five quick points to cut the Rockets’ lead to two. James Harden missed two shots for Houston after that and the Thunder had a last chance.