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Short-handed Pacers roll over Atlanta

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INDIANAPOLIS — David West sat out his fifth straight game, but he wasn’t the only missing starter for the Indiana Pacers.

George Hill also was too sore to play. So was Lance Stephenson.

But it didn’t matter.

With Gerald Green leading the way, the Indiana Pacers had just enough firepower to make up the difference.

Green scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Pacers to a 100-94 win Monday night against the visiting Atlanta Hawks.

Green’s clutch performance, which included a critical 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, helped the short-handed Pacers (44-27) avert disaster in a game they had dominated until the final three minutes. They led 58-43 at halftime and were up 28 twice in the third quarter before cold shooting and a parade of turnovers gave Atlanta a chance in the final period.

With their starters on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, the Hawks took closed to within four — 94-90 — with 1:07 to play. But the Pacers got breathing room when D.J. Augustin stole the ball from John Jenkins and fed Green for a 3-pointer with 38 seconds to play, pushing the lead to 97-90.

Green went on to make three of four free-throw attempts and collect a steal in the final 19 seconds to secure the win. The Pacers, who shot 52 percent in the third quarter, shot a dismal 25 percent in the fourth. They also committed 10 turnovers in the period.

Green started at shooting guard for Stephenson, who sat out with a right hip flexor strain. Augustin started at point guard for Hill, who is nursing a left groin strain. West has a lower back strain.

Remarkably, the Pacers didn’t seem to miss the missing starters through the first three quarters. With a lift from Green and their bench, they led by double figures halftime, were up 81-53 late in the third quarter and took an 85-63 advantage into the final period.

Roy Hibbert finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds for his 18th double-double.

He also had three blocked shots. Backups Orlando Johnson and Jeff Pendergraph had 15 and 14 points, respectively. Starters Paul George and Tyler Hansbrough 13 and 12, respectively.

Josh Smith led the Hawks (39-32) with 20 points. Al Horford had 13, and former Pike High School standout Jeff Teague and former Butler star Shelvin Mack had 10 each.

With the win, the Pacers have a half-game edge on New York for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They also narrowed the magic number for clinching their first Central Division title since 2004 to seven.

The Pacers, who have 11 games remaining, begin a four-game road trip Wednesday at Houston. They play at Dallas on Thursday, are at Phoenix on Saturday and visit the Los Angeles Clippers on April 1.

Indiana returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 5 against Oklahoma City.

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