Indianapolis–If their defensive energy is going to vary depending on how often their shots go in, then at least the Hawks are humming on offense more often than not. Facing a physical opponent, the Hawks were crisp, patient and effective scoring the ball and improved to 5-1 on the road.
– Smoove was inside, outside and everywhere in between, making his jumpers and getting to the line. Bibby made the Pacers pay for collapsing on Smoove, then handed out dimes when the defense ran at him. Al damaged the Pacers with pick-and-pops in the fourth quarter. Marvin was efficient. J.J. wasn’t hitting so he passed.
– Clearly one early trait of the Hawks under L.D. is that they really are buying into moving the ball and spreading around the scoring. “He puts new wrinkles in probably every week,” J.J. said. “I think that keeps us fine-tuned to what he wants and what we are doing out there.”
– “They’ve got a lot of people you have to stop,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said.
– Smoove dominated with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots (the Pacers had six). “That’s a pretty good line,” L.D. said. “He made a couple mistakes but they were aggressive mistakes. ”
– Josh had three blocks within the first five minutes and from then on you could see the Pacers peeking to see if he was coming over to help on drives. Hibbert missed a layup in the fourth quarter because he felt Smoove.
– “Every night my teammates depend on me to give us energy,” Smove said. “I can’t let them down. I’ve got to play well.”
– J.J. came out on the losing end of his tussle with Danny Granger, who is a big, strong guy. J.J. can’t displace Granger like he can most defenders. The matchup wore J.J. down and frustrated him at times–he and Granger got double technicals in the third quarter.
– Still, J.J. had five assists and Bibby benefited from Indiana’s focus on him. “When we get into offensive sets, everyone knows we are going to feature Joe,” L.D. said. “He’s been very unselfish. He did a great job of finding the open man.”
–The Hawks’ bench was complaining about Indiana’s hand-checks and roughhousing in the first half. That made it tough for J.J. and the other guards to get into the lane and there also wasn’t much room for Smoove and Al to operate. The Hawks played through it until they started getting some whistles after halftime.
– “That’s kind of part of understanding how to win on the road,” L.D. said. “You are not going to get calls. We don’t expect it. You have to play through it.”
– Atlanta never did get calls in the first half but it hardly mattered once Bibby started draining 3s. He made all three attempts in the second quarter. “When you can get any guard to start knocking down consistent threes, it opens up the post-up for us bigs,” Josh said.
– Al was pretty stout against Hibbert, who never did back him down and score consistently. Hibbert said he spent time in the summer studying tape of his matchups with Al. Horford’s strategy: “Just contain him, keep him off the paint and make him shoot over the top. Obviously he’s gotten better but we weren’t going to come double and just kind of let him shoot over the top.”
– L.D. said the Hawks wanted to make Hibbert, the league’s top shot blocker, defend a lot of pick-and-rolls. Hibbert had one blocked shot in 33 minutes. “If you play a halfcourt game and allow him to sit there he can affect the game,” L.D. said. “We wanted to get him on the move.”
– Al picked up his second foul early in the second quarter and L.D. again gave him the hook. Horford said he was “frustrated” by having to sit.
– Horford took over during the 9-0 run that essentially put Indiana away. He started the spurt by scoring over Hibbert on a power move, made a jumper, found J.J. going baseline for an and-1 and then made another jumper. “I stuck with it and the guys really found me,” he said. “I was just ready to step in and make shots.”
– Hibbert had 15 rebounds as the Pacers had a 42-30 edge on the board. L.D. said the Hawks only sent their centers and power forwards to the offensive boards because they were focused on getting back in transition to cut off 3-pointers. Indiana had four fastbreak points and was 4 of 18 on 3-pointers.
– Powell played only three minutes, most of those at center. Hibbert scored over him easily so L.D. went to Collins, who lasted only five minutes.
– Teague made a pair of 3-pointers to help Atlanta stay close in the first quarter. He also had three assists with no turnovers and three rebounds. His on-ball defense is invaluable to the Hawks.
– Marvin limped off in the fourth quarter and iced his knee on the bench. He said he could have gone back in if needed.
– The Pacers played without Darren Collison. T.J. Ford is a capable backup, and Bibby had his problems against him, but Indiana could have used Collison’s shooting.
– L.D. gave the Hawks Wednesday off.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.