Atlanta Hawks: Pacers 96, Hawks 84
Indianapolis–The Hawks were short-handed, they didn’t play well for two of the three competitive quarters, and Indiana was good. It all added up to a beatdown that Atlanta’s third-stringers made look more respectable.
- Larry Drew said Al Horford will be reevaluated when the team returns to Atlanta. The Hawks said the initial diagnosis was a strained left shoulder. Horford wasn’t in the locker room after the game during my time in there.
- Tracy McGrady said he’s not sure if he will be available vs. Charlotte tomorrow. “This morning, I felt a little tight in my back but I didn’t think it was going to be anything serious to keep me out,” he said.
- Clearly Atlanta’s offense suffers without Horford, McGrady and Marvin Williams. It suffers even more against a good defensive team like the Pacers.
- But the Hawks made a run at it in the second quarter, when they scored 14 of their 30 points in the paint, earned 10 free-throw attempts (making seven) and had just one turnover. It came apart in the third quarter, when they had four field goals, three free-throw attempts and six turnovers.
- “We missed a lot of shots, some easy layups,” Drew said. “We turned the ball over. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong in that third quarter.”
- “I thought our ball movement wasn’t good enough and our energy was not high enough out there,” Joe Johnson said. “Losing Al hurt a lot. He’s a good low-post scorer for us. He’s also a high-energy guy. He’s a big piece of what we do.”
- Al came out looking like he was going to take it to Roy Hibbert, size disadvantage be damned. That fall on the blocked shot looked bad, though.
- The Hawks actually had nine shots in the paint in the third quarter compared to 10 attempts in the second. But they made just three of those tries in the third after making seven in the second quarter.
- In the third quarter, Jeff Teague missed two shots at the rim and Ivan Johnson, Jannero Pargo and Zaza Pachulia each missed one.
- Some of that was the Roy Hibbert effect. When guys went to the basket, you could see them taking extra dribbles and double-clutching. All that did was give Hibbert (four of Indian’s 10 blocked shots) more time to recover.
- Zaza absorbed most of Horford’s minutes and was good offensively with 11 points on six shots and strong on the boards as usual. But he couldn’t keep Hibbert away from the basket or challenge the many Pacers who sliced into the lane.
- “I think we gave up too many easy points in the paint,” Josh Smith said. “You make it harder to get some stops. Hibbert is a tall glass of water. When you let him catch it around that smiley face and be able to lean in like that, it’s basically a layup. Then they knocked down some open jump shots.”
- Collins did a good job keeping Hibbert away from the basket but the pace in the third quarter was too much for him. He did manage four rebounds in 12 minutes, good production for him.
- While Hibbert was dropping in buckets down low, Danny Granger was lighting it up from outside. “They are playing more of an inside-out game,” Teague said.
- Johnson and Granger always go hard at each other. Granger was the clear winner tonight once Johnson failed to score after halftime.
- Atlanta’s defense overall was bad during the parts of the game that mattered but Johnson was particularly guilty of losing his man on the perimeter.
- I’ve covered a lot of games in this building, always sitting underneath the goal near the visitor’s bench. I never say much about officiating one way or another but I’m always amazed how officials let the Pacers beat up on the visiting team, especially around the basket. Seriously, I’ve probably watched 10 games from that seat and it’s the same thing every time.
- That being said, the Hawks didn’t always stay focused in spite of the contact. Josh especially seemed to let the no-calls bother him and picked up a technical and a couple cheap fouls.
- The Hawks have to know that’s how it’s going to be here. “We was expecting it,” Joe said. “When Al went down, that was a tough break for us. In that second half we didn’t come out with the intensity we needed.”
- I can see why Ivan Johnson is a fan favorite. He provides good energy. But he’s also a turnover machine, takes too many jumpers (and shoots too much considering the company he keeps on the floor) and sometimes is too brazen when he goes the basket.
- However, that was an impressive steal for an and-1 dunk. Dude has wheels for his size. He should have been a linebacker.
- The Hawks may have to figure out how to score for at least another game without one or two of Horford, McGrady and Williams or maybe all three. “We have to preach ball movement,” Josh said. “Stress it and do it. Otherwise we will have another outing like we had tonight. We can’t have isolation all the time. We have got to spread the ball around, spread the love and get everyone involved.”
- Lou Amundson went bush league and tried to score with the shot clock off in the final seconds. Collins came over and gave him a hard foul to let him know that’s not cool. Collins got a Flagrant 2 and an ejection for the move.
- “You dribble the clock out in that situation if you are a true professional,” Collins said. “That was not a Flagrant 2. I gave him a hard foul, that’s all I did. He went in to try to dunk the basketball, first of all. If you are going to stop a dunk you have to deliver a hard foul. That’s all that was.”
- Lance Stephenson, noted head case from his days back at Cincinnati, seemed to be really proud of his career-high 12 points. He kept flexing at Atlanta’s bench in garbage time. Hawks players didn’t like it, though a couple guys just laughed at him.
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat