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Hawks Steal 'One' From Pacers

Anthony Johnson made the most of his first start with Atlanta.

Johnson, starting in place of ailing Mookie Blaylock, scored a season-high 17 points as the Hawks rallied to beat the Indiana Pacers 83-82 Monday night.

"I just had to step it up and play well. I didn't want to let my teammates down," Johnson said.

Reserve Grant Long scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws with 3.4 seconds left, as the Hawks beat the Pacers for the third time this season.

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  • Long was fouled by Rik Smits as he drove to the basket in the closing seconds and made both free throws to give Atlanta an 83-81 lead.

    "I knew Rik Smits would be running at me," Long said. "I thought maybe a play or two ahead, if he comes again I'm going to show him the ball and maybe pump fake him."

    Reggie Miller was then fouled as the Pacers attempted to inbound the ball, giving Indiana one free throw and possession of the ball under a new rule regarding fouls on inbound plays in the last 2 minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime.

    Miller hit the free throw to make it 83-82. The Pacers then inbounded the ball, but couldn't get a shot off before the final buzzer.

    Dikembo Mutombo had 14 points and 17 rebounds for the Hawks, who overcme a 10-point deficit in the final eight minutes and held Indiana to a season-low 14 points in the last quarter.

    "We were fortunate because Blaylock was sick and Anthony Johnson stepped up and played a huge game," said Atlanta coach Lenny Wilkens.

    Reggie Miller and the Pacers can't get on the ball against Atlanta.>
    Reggie Miller and the Pacers can't get on the ball against Atlanta. (AP)

    Smits led the Pacers with 22 points, while Miller finished with 17.

    Smits hit a layup that would have given Indiana an 83-79 lead with 53 seconds left, but referee Tim Donaghy ruled the shot had come after the 24-second clock expired.

    "The 24-second call was a tough call," Smits said. "We shouldn't have been in that situation. We must stop letting teams hang around and be in position to win at the end of the game."

    Long tied the score with 38 seconds remaining and Indiana's Mark Jackson missed a jumper with 21.8 seconds left to set the stage for Long's drive and free throws.

    The Pacers scored the last eight points of the third quarter to take a 68-60 lead and matched their biggest lead of the game when Jalen Rose scored to start the fourth quarter.

    Atlanta, which hadn't scored since Johnson sank a 3-pointer to tie the game at 60 with 4:21 left in the third quarter, had three turnovers and three missed shots to start the final period. A jumper by Johnson with 7:56 left then ignited the comeback and the Hawks hit their final eight shots of the game.

    Indiana was outscored 23-14 and had five of its 11 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

    "We didn't score, we didn't get the ball in the right places and we didn't attack," coach Larry Bird said.

    Blaylock, who had started every game for Atlanta this season, had the flu and reportedly spent the game sleeping in the dressing room .

    Indiana opened a 10-point lead in the first quarter as Atlanta went nearly five minutes without scoring.

    The Hawks got back in the game as Indiana went scoreless for more than three minutes. There were five ties and six lead changes in the quarter, with the last coming as Miller hit a driving layup with 2.2 seconds remaining to give Indiana a 45-44 lead at the break.


    The Pacers are in the midst of playing seven games in nine days. ... Johnson, whose previous scoring high was 14 points, played a season-high 43 minutes. ... Indiana lost Antonio Davis in the first half when he sprained his right ankle and he did not return. ... Nineteen-year-od Al Harrington, the former New Jersey high school star who had seen little action until last week, has played 49 minutes in the last four games. He had made only six previous appearances, playing a total of 23 minutes. ... Despite the competition of the NCAA championship on television, the game drew 16,669 fans -- the team's seventh sellout of the season.

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