Danny Granger scored 25 points to help the Indiana Pacers defeat the Orlando Magic 105-87 on Tuesday night and clinch their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series 4-1.
It was Indiana's first series win since 2005 and its first clincher on its home court since the first round of the 2000 playoffs. The Pacers will play Miami or New York in the second round.
Darren Collison scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and George Hill added 15 points for the Pacers, who trailed by two at the end of the third quarter but outscored the Magic 36-16 in the final 12 minutes.
Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 27 points and made 5 of 8 three-pointers. Glen Davis, a thorn in Indiana's side throughout the series, scored 15 but made just 6 of 17 shots. The Magic made just 5 of 16 shots in the fourth quarter.
Collison made a layup and hit a 3-pointer to give the Pacers a 78-73 lead with 9:33 to play. After Nelson drained another 3, Collison came back with a layup, then Leandro Barbosa's steal and layup pushed Indiana's lead to 87-80 with 6:49 to play and forced an Orlando timeout. A few minutes later, Indiana's Paul George stole an inbounds pass and found Granger under the hoop for a layup and a 91-80 lead. The Pacers dominated from there.
Hawks, Bulls stay alive
Al Horford scored 19 points in his first start since January, and the Atlanta Hawks held on for an 87-86 victory over the visiting Boston Celtics in a thrilling Game Five of the Eastern Conference playoffs Tuesday night.
The Celtics lead the series 3-2 heading back to Boston for Game Six on Thursday. If the Hawks can steal one on the road, the deciding game would be Saturday in Atlanta.
Boston had a chance to clinch the series when Rajon Rondo stole Josh Smith's inbounds pass with 10 seconds remaining and raced down the court, looking for the winner. But he got hemmed in along the sideline and Smith knocked away a desperation pass, the ball rolling away as time ran out. A relieved Smith collapsed on the scorer's table.
In Chicago, Luol Deng scored 24 points and Carlos Boozer added 19 points and 13 rebounds as the top-seeded Bulls forced Game Six with a 77-69 win over Philadelphia. The Sixers, who hold a 3-2 series lead, shot a season-low 32.1 percent from the floor.
* Of the other 101 teams to lose the first three games in a best-of-seven NBA series, none ultimately prevailed and only 10 managed to stave off elimination twice. Still, the Knicks look to keep their season alive and pull within 3-2 when they visit Miami tonight (7, TNT).
* Memphis hosts Los Angeles Clippers in Game Five still trying to figure out how to stop Chris Paul (9:30, TNT). The Clippers beat Denver in the first round in 2006, and one more win clinches only their second playoff series since the Buffalo Braves relocated to California.