Friday, April 25, 2014
Teague's wild 3 helps Hawks gain edge
By Nubyjas Wilborn
Special to ESPN.com
ATLANTA -- A No. 8 seed sometimes requires a little luck to knock off the top seed in a playoff series.
No play sums up that -- and the Atlanta Hawks' 2-1 series lead against the Indiana Pacers -- better than Jeff Teague’s off-balance 3-pointer with 2:49 left in the pivotal fourth quarter.
The improbable shot by Teague, who scored a game-high 22 points with 10 assists in the Hawks' 98-85 victory Thursday night, gave the Hawks a nine-point edge and sent the 18,124 people in the sellout Philips Arena crowd into hysteria.
Teague added a little stylistic flourish -- one that’s quite familiar in the annals of postseason history -- on his run back up the court.
“I gave it the Jordan shrug because I thought it was going to be an air ball.” Teague said. “It didn’t feel good coming off my hand, but once it went in I was pretty confident it was our night.”
Following Teague’s crazy shot, the Pacers would get within seven points on a Lance Stephenson layup with 2:26 left in the game before finally succumbing to a 13-point loss. The bucket by Stephenson accounted for two of his team-leading 21 points.
“I always tell Teague to get the ball whenever the shot clock goes down because he makes the most plays,” Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll said. “We knew once that shot went in we could finish these guys off; it was our chance to show we aren’t your ordinary eighth seed.”
Teague’s big shot didn’t come without a little bit of controversy. The play was reviewed to ensure that both of Teague’s feet were behind the line and in bounds as he shot it.
“What they said was that if you step out of bounds and then step back in bounds and shoot it, they’re looking at the last step. So even though [Jeff] Teague was out of bounds with his first step, his second step was back in bounds," Pacers forward David West lamented. “That play was a killer. It put us down by nine and took the wind out of our sails.”
The Hawks know they have a long way to go to finish off the limping Pacers, but when you get a shot like Teague’s on a night when you start the game shooting 2-for-16 from the 3-point line as a team, there’s an inkling of belief that you have a chance to become the sixth No. 8 seed to come out of the first round.
“It was a lucky shot, but we created our own luck by being aggressive and never giving up on ourselves,” Teague said. “We aren’t playing like we have nothing to lose; we’re playing to win, and we want this series.”