WASHINGTON - Paul George scored 30 points as the top-seeded Indiana Pacers, pushed to the brink of elimination, beat the Atlanta Hawks 92-80 to reach the second round of the NBA playoffs.
The Pacers, who had the best record in the Eastern Conference to claim a home-court edge all the way into the NBA Finals, had to win the last two games of their best-of-seven series to advance 4-3 over the only team in the playoffs with a losing regular-season record.
Indiana, who pushed Miami to seven games in last year's East finals before losing, will face the Washington Wizards in the second round.
George set a career playoff high in points and also grabbed 11 rebounds while Lance Stephenson added 19 points and 15 rebounds for Indiana. Roy Hibbert and George hill each had 13 points for the Pacers, who also had 12 rebounds from David West.
Long-range sharpshooter Kyle Korver led Atlanta with 19 points on a night when the Hawks set an NBA playoff game record with 43 3-point attempts, but connected on only 11 shots from behind the arc.
Atlanta failed to become the sixth bottom seed to topple a top seed in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Pacers' back-to-back wins in games six and seven were the only such wins in the series.
George scored 16 points in the first half while Hibbert added nine for the Pacers, who went on an 18-4 run to pull ahead 47-36 at half-time.
Atlanta's Paul Milsap, who finished with 15 points, went 0-for-9 in the first half, part of a 1-for-15 shooting performance from the Hawks' forwards in the first half.
The Pacers stayed on top throughout the second half, denying a late charge from the Hawks to seal the series.
The game was the first of a record five game sevens in the opening round of the NBA playoffs. The total already matches the league record for the most seventh games in all rounds in any playoff year.