The Indiana Pacers were just too much offensively for the Atlanta Hawks to hang with, taking Game 2 113-98 Wednesday night in Indiana.
Shockingly enough, the Hawks couldn't stop a rather pedestrian Pacers offense, ranking 23rd in the NBA with just 93.4 points per game. Early on in the first half, the Pacers were putting on a dunk show.
First, when Roy Hibbert punished Ivan Johnson for thinking he could get a charge called on him.
And second, when Gerald Green reminded all of us, especially Josh Smith, why he's one of the most prolific dunk artists in the game.
Even after those massive throwdowns, the Hawks were able to keep the game competitive and close throughout the first half with a significant amount of interior offense. At the end of the first half, the Pacers, behind Paul George's 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, grabbed a 59-50 lead and never looked back.
The most shocking statistic of the night was the 48 points scored in the paint by Indiana, as compared to just 40 points in the paint for the Hawks. Even with Josh Smith and Al Horford, the Pacers were able to dominate the paint, and that was a real difference-maker.
Paul George showed once again that he's ready to take his game to that elusive next level. He finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and three assists on 52.4 percent shooting from the field.
With four steals and a block, George's perimeter defense was effective in shutting down the Hawks' perimeter offense throughout the night. The newly crowned 2013 Most Improved Player played 39 minutes without committing a single turnover. That's the kind of efficient play that is going to help him become a true superstar in the NBA over the next few years.
With eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Hawks cut the Pacers lead to 10 points. But then George Hill took over, scoring seven of their next 13 points and ending the night with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
The Pacers never looked back after the late push by the Hawks, crushing any morale the Hawks had left by leading by 20-plus points with only three minutes left in the game.
The Hawks' increased focus on physical play didn't intimidate the Pacers. Instead, it led to the Pacers getting more free throws (29 for the Pacers, 20 for the Hawks). That's a sign of an intelligent and well-coached team.
Up next is a trip to Atlanta for Game 3 as the Pacers look to all but lock up the series Saturday night.