Vivlamore reporting. Here is the updated game story from Saturday’s win over the Pacers. I got some really great stuff from Lou Williams on being in the starting lineup. Look for that story tomorrow.
There was no need for a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback this time.
The Hawks jumped out early and cruised to a 109-100 victory over the Pacers Saturday night at Philips Arena.
The Hawks had to erase a big deficit for a victory over the Pacers on Nov. 7. That was not the case on this night – thanks in large part to Zaza Pachulia. The center stepped in for the short-handed Hawks and delivered with a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds.
“I’m trying to do my best every game,” Pachulia said. “I’m a role player. I’m trying to do my duty. I’m trying to do the things the coaches expect from me and my teammates as well.”
The Hawks (19-9) played without leading scorer Josh Smith, Anthony Morrow and Devin Harris due to injury. Still, they led by as many as 18 points for their fourth straight victory. The Hawks, third in the Eastern Conference have won four straight and 11 in a row at Philips Arena against the Pacers.
Lou Williams had a career-high 12 assists to go with 21 points for his first ever points-assists double-double. The Hawks also got double-digit scoring from Al Horford (20), Kyle Kover (16), Jeff Teague (15) and rookie John Jenkins (career-high 10). Ten of Teague’s points came late in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t think that is our focus,” Williams said when asked if the Hawks are respected league-wide. “I think it’s just to continue to come out and win games. We prefer to fly under the radar. I’m sure when teams come in here they realize they are playing a good basketball team. In the locker room we understand that. That is the only thing that matters.”
The Pacers (17-13), fourth in the East, had a four-game win streak snapped and lost for only the second time in nine games. David West led the way with a game-high 29 points.
The Pacers used an 18-8 run to start the fourth quarter to cut their deficit to three points, 91-88. But the Hawks answered with a 10-2 run to re-gain some breathing room.
Pachulia got the start in place of Smith to counter the Pacers’ 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert. The Hawks limited the big man to no points and one rebound.
“Just be physical with him,” Pachulia said on stopping Hibbert. “Don’t give any ground. Don’t let him take position early or in transition. That was one of the keys and I think we did a good job.”
Pachulia spoke post-game with a long scratch near his right eye, a battle scar from the night.
“DeShawn (Stevenson) says if I’m not bleeding, I’m not playing,” Pachulia said.
The Hawks led 55-48 at halftime after shooting 61.5 percent from the field (24 of 39). They led by as many as 11 points, late in the second quarter, but took control of the first half in the opening period.
The Hawks used an 11-2 first-quarter run to open up a nine-point lead. In a key sequence, rookie John Jenkins fed Horford for a layup and after an immediate steal buried a 3-pointer for a 29-20 lead.
“Man, it feels great,” Jenkins said. “I’m not an express-my-emotions type of guy but it definitely feels good to go out there and make shots.”
A 3-pointer by Williams with 3:39 remaining in the first quarter gave the Hawks a 21-18 lead, an advantage they would never surrender.
Horford finished with 14 first-half points but the Hawks got major contributions from their bench. Jenkins tied his career high of eight points in the opening half. Pachulia, who did start at center, had eight points and seven rebounds. Even Johan Petro chipped in with four points in the first 24 minutes. Ivan Johnson finished the game with six points coming off a missed game due to a stomach illness.
“That is two games in a row that we got big, big production from our bench,” coach Larry Drew said. “I thought our bench came in and did a phenomenal job.”
The Hawks used a 14-2 run in the third quarter to push their lead to 18 points.
For the Hawks it was their second game in a stretch of four games in four cities in five nights. After a travel day Sunday, the Hawks play at the Rockets Monday and at the Hornets Tuesday.
- Chris Vivlamore
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