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Pacers Come Back To Beat Hawks

Reggie Miller had a simple explanation for Indiana's comeback victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

"Sure we were tired after double overtime (Friday night), then traveling, but our bench really stepped up ... and we made our free throws. Simple as that."

Miller scored 17 of his 31 points in the second half as the Pacers beat the Hawks 96-92 Saturday night after trailing most of the first three quarters.

Indiana broke an 82-82 tie on Derrick McKey's hook shot in the lane with 2:07 to play, putting Indiana in front to stay on what proved to be its final field goal.

The Central-leading Pacers, who recovered from Friday night's home loss to the Dallas Mavericks, converted 12 consecutive free throws in the final 1:25, including four each by Miller and Travis Best.

"You know, Reggie is Reggie," said Pacers coach Larry Bird. "Reggie hits big shots, and of course, he hits his free throws at the end. Our team is playing well ... but we still have a long way to go."

The Pacers also got a boost from their reserves, as their bench outscored the Hawks bench 35-6.

Dikembe Mutombo led the Hawks with 25 points and 18 rebounds and Alan Henderson added 24 points.

"Our goal is to win it all," Miller said. "You can't be satisfied just to get to the playoffs. We have all of the right tools right here. With the veteran ballclub that we have, our window of opportunity is not great. So we're taking advantage of every opportunity we get."

Atlanta's first field goal of the final quarter came on a driving layup by Mookie Blaylock with 3:02 remaining, cutting Indiana's lead to 82-80. Mutombo's two free throws with 2:24 to play forged the final tie that was broken by McKey's hook.

"We missed way too many free throws," said Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens after his team went 19-for-33 from the line. "And when you're doing good things and you get fouled, you have to be able to capitalize on the free throw line."

Best added 14 points and McKey 10 for the Pacers, who also got 10 points and 13 rebounds from Rik Smits before he fouled out with 2:36 to play.

Atlanta's Steve Smith had 19 points, none after the 3:14 mark of the third quarter. He fouled out with 3:32 left in the game.

"You just have to laugh this one off," Smith said. "Sometimes I get upset. This one I'm not."

Notes: Christian Laettner missed his third consecutive game for the Hawks because of the flu ... Both teams were coming off losses Friday night, the Pacers dropping a 85-82 double overtime decision to Dallas and Atlanta a 112-110 loss at Chicago. ... The victory snapped Atlanta's three-game winning streak in the series. Each team has won once as a visitor this season. ... The game drew a crowd of 25,679 in the Georgia Dome. ... It was Atlanta's first loss in seven games against Central Division opposition.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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