Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Paul George scored 27 points and George Hill had all 15 of his points in the second half, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 101-85 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
The Pacers and Hawks are tied at a game apiece heading into Game 3 in Atlanta on Thursday.
George was especially effective even though he spent much of the night defending Hawks point guard Jeff Teague, who had 14 points. Paul Millsap finished with 19 for Atlanta.
The first 24 minutes looked like an exact duplicate of Game 1, but the Pacers pulled away with a 31-13 third quarter.
Top-seeded Indiana took its first lead since the first quarter on Lance Stephenson's three-point play and closed the quarter on an 11-0 run to make it 79-65.
Jose Fernandez Ks 14, Marlins shut out Braves 1-0
ATLANTA (AP) - Jose Fernandez matched his career high with 14 strikeouts in eight innings and combined with Steve Cishek on a three-hitter as the Miami Marlins shut out the Atlanta Braves 1-0 on Tuesday night.
Fernandez (3-1) outpitched Atlanta's Alex Wood (2-3), who also was dominant. Wood allowed four hits and one run with no walks and a career-high 11 strikeouts in eight innings.
The Marlins gave Fernandez the only run he would need in the fourth. Giancarlo Stanton hit a one-out double to left field and scored on Casey McGehee's single up the middle.
Fernandez struck out the side in the fourth and fifth innings. He allowed three hits with no walks.
Cishek pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save.
Braves' Minor to make 1 more rehab start in minors
ATLANTA (AP) - Braves left-hander Mike Minor's season debut has been pushed back so he can make one more minor league start in his recovery from tendinitis in his left shoulder.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez says Minor will start for Double-A Mississippi in Pensacola on Friday. Gonzalez says the team wants Minor to have his sixth minor league start to equal a normal spring training workload.
Before Tuesday's announcement, Minor had been tentatively scheduled to start for Atlanta on Saturday against Cincinnati.
Minor had urinary tract surgery on Dec. 31, which pushed back his spring schedule. He then developed the shoulder soreness and was shut down in spring training.
Gonzalez says Minor has had no recurrence of the shoulder problem and should be ready to join the Atlanta rotation after Friday's start.
Smith demands bigger, stronger lines for Falcons
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith wants his team to make major improvements on the line of scrimmage.
If not, Smith fears the Falcons could bottom out for the second straight season.
Assessing his team's 4-12 record last year, Smith says the Falcons were most hurt by a lack of strength and size on both sides of the line.
The offense ranked last in rushing, and quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked a career-high 44 times.
The defense ranked last in third-down efficiency, second-worst against the run and third-fewest in sacks.
Smith reiterated Tuesday that he's to blame "because I'm the head coach." But he added that he likes how the team filled major needs in free agency by signing guard Jon Asamoah and defensive linemen Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai.
Coach Smith says Julio Jones 'progressing well'
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith isn't sure when receiver Julio Jones will return to full speed.
Smith said Jones, whose 2013 season ended with a broken foot in Week 5, is "progressing well" following surgery last October.
"Our focus on Julio is one thing, and that's having him prepared for our opener," Smith said. "We're not going to do anything to hinder his timeframe in terms of getting back to work with us."
Jones led the NFL with 41 catches and ranked second in yards receiving through Atlanta's home loss to the New York Jets last Oct. 7.
Jones, the sixth overall draft pick three years ago, was a first-time Pro Bowl selection in 2012.
Smith said Jones will participate in walkthroughs now that the Falcons have started offseason workouts.
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