ATLANTA -- There was a look of disbelief from some of the players as their coach, the one who rarely locks his jaw or gets beet red in the face, lit into them during their film session Friday afternoon. Some were in shock. Others were embarrassed because he had called them out for their embarrassing play at times against the Atlanta Hawks.
Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel had seen enough. He no longer cared about hurting anybody's feelings. He was tired of the players sulking, lacking passion and simply the poor play.
It's unknown if Vogel's message will be enough for Indiana to win the series, but it was enough for the team to overcome late missed free throws by Paul George and David West to beat the Atlanta Hawks 91-88 to even the series at 2-2.
"He screamed on everybody," Pacers guard Lance Stephenson told ESPN.com. "I have never seen him that mad. He went in on everybody. Man, I was shocked because I've never seen him like that. He barked on everybody, even if you did good that game."
Change wasn't only necessary on the court for the Pacers. It was necessary for Vogel, too. One person in the Pacers organization told ESPN.com that was "easily" the worst Vogel had gone off on the players in his three seasons as coach of the team.
Vogel brought that same irritation to practice Friday, as he was short and not in the mood to talk to the media.
The focus was strictly to make sure he got the message across to his players about the importance of Game 4. Win and retake home court in the series. Lose and possibly not return to Atlanta for Game 6.
"We were in all or nothing," West said. "There's no way we could go down two games in this series. We understood that. We were in desperation mode."
Vogel didn't hold anything back on how approached the game. He got some contributions from center Roy Hibbert -- six points, three rebounds and two blocks -- but did the right thing by using their best lineup -- the small one -- with West and Luis Scola at power forward and center. "Against this team, which has five 3-point shooters, I think it makes sense," Vogel said. "What we have are two major league competitors in David West and Luis Scola."
The attitude was different during and after the game for the Pacers. Hibbert played 25 minutes and was leading the cheering brigade from the sidelines when he was on the bench. Music was blasting in the locker room, and the players were in a spirited mood heading back home with the pressure now on the Hawks.
"I think we're still a confident group," Hawks forward Paul Millsap said. "We let one slip away here. We showed that we can go and compete in the games up there. That's what our mindset is now. We got to let this one go and get ready for [Game 5] Monday."
Attitudes might have been upbeat, but you still can't say everything has suddenly been fixed with Indiana. The series is tied, which is the most important thing in the Pacers' eyes despite them not making it easy on themselves late.
West, an 82.5 percent career free throw shooter, missed a chance to tie the game with 2:41 left when he didn't convert two free throws and then fouled Kyle Korver on a 3-point attempt a little over a minute later. George also missed two free throws that would have sealed the game with 7.5 seconds left.
Those four missed free throws would have offset the two 3-pointers West and George made to take and then extend their lead for good on back-to-back possessions inside of the two-minute mark. Point guard George Hill made sure Korver didn't have a chance to touch the ball on Atlanta's final possession to allow the Pacers -- and Vogel -- to fly back to Indianapolis feeling good.
"We never stopped believing in ourselves," West said. "We're going to continue to fight and scrap, do whatever we have to do to try and win the series, win the next game.
"That's what the playoffs are about. We have to bring same sort of intensity, same sort of feistiness to give ourselves a chance to win."