Here is the updated game story from the Hawks’ win over the Pacers, which snapped a three-game losing streak.
You can call it the Highlight Factory again.
The Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak – all at Philips Arena – with a 97-87 victory over the Pacers Wednesday night.
Josh Smith had 28 points and 12 rebounds to lead the much-needed effort for the Hawks (17-9). His one-handed dunk off a Marvin Williams’ missed 3-pointer punctuated his performance. Joe Johnson added 20 points as the team improved to 12-1 when he scores 20 or more points.
“We played like a desperate team,” Smith said. “That is how we have to play night in and night out, like we need to win.”
It wasn’t exactly easy.
The third quarter almost bit the Hawks again. The Pacers cut an 18-point halftime deficit to just eight points, 80-72. They would get as close as seven points in the fourth quarter before the Hawks pulled away.
“Energy, that was the difference,” coach Larry Drew said. “We are like night and day when we play with energy. We were able to sustain it. We came out and played energized basketball.”
Kirk Hinrich scored a season-high 17 points and Tracy McGrady added 13 points as the Hawks snapped a streak where they lost three times at home by a total of 39 points.
“Kirk came in early and was really, really energized,” Drew said. “Right now he is really trying to get his legs under him [after shoulder surgery]. This is still like training camp for him.”
Smith was 11-for-17 from the field, including making both his 3-point attempts, and had five steals and three blocked shots.
“He played just super,” Drew said of Smith. “I don’t think Josh gets the credit he deserves for what he brings to the table. He is a guy who can impact it on both ends. He was certainly a difference maker tonight.”
Danny Granger led the Pacers (17-8) with 21 points.
The Hawks led by as many as 21 points in the first half.
The lead was fueled by a 20-6 run in the second quarter after a scary moment involving Jeff Teague. The point guard drove the lane and took a nasty spill over the Pacers’ Tyler Hansbrough, hitting his head on the floor. However, the official ruled that Hansbrough was pushed by Ivan Johnson, who was called for a foul and then assessed a technical. Teague has an ice bag on his head during the ensuing timeout, but missed no time.
Teague said he also hurt his wrist in breaking his fall.
The ensuing run gave the Hawks a 55-34 lead. They kept the cushion until David West hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the lead to 18 points at the break.
Johnson scored 16 first-half points while Smith added 13 and Hinrich added 11.
“I wanted to get us off to a good start,” Johnson said. “We haven’t gotten off to great starts as of late and I wanted to be aggressive, try to make plays and get other guys involved.”
The Hawks did come out fast, scoring 32 first-quarter points. It was their second highest point total in the opening stanza this season, a point shy of 33 points they scored against the Bulls on Jan. 7.
The Pacers failed early to take advantage of the height advantage at center in 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert. He scored just four first-half points, both from outside the free-throw line. He finished with 10 points.
The Hawks out-rebounded the Pacers 45-33 as they showed a concerted effort on the glass and chasing down loose balls.
The Hawks are now 10-5 since losing Al Horford to a torn left pectoral muscle. Johnson acknowledge that most of the early success without the two-time all-star game against lesser opponents.
“Just to be realistic, the teams we were playing at first, those were subpar teams,” Johnson said prior to the game. “Those are teams you are supposed to beat whether I’m playing or whether I’m not playing or whether Al is not playing. These last three games we have played quality playoff teams and we’ve got to beat some of these teams. It’s no knock – I’m not saying we are a lot better than them. I just think the effort we’ve been putting out these last three games, we can get away with that against subpar teams. But against teams over .500, quality playoff teams, we’ve got to play hard and relentless for 48 minutes.”
The played with energy Wednesday in turning around their fortunes.
- Chris Vivlamore