ATLANTA – Saturday night figured to be as good a time as any to end familiar storyline with the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks.
Eleven-straight trips to Phillips Arena by the blue and gold have resulted in as many defeats. In fact just one Pacers player was around the last time Indiana beat the Hawks in Atlanta on December 22, 2006-and Danny Granger is out for the season with a knee injury and not even on the floor.
But having won the first two games of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in decisive fashion (17 and 23 points), Frank Vogel’s team appeared to have its best shot to date of ending the Atlanta streak in Game Three.
We’ll sometimes storylines die hard in the NBA.
With an effort completely the opposite of what they showed in Indianapolis the Hawks jumped all over the Pacers offensively early and rode the momentum to an easy 90-69 victory Saturday night.
Al Horford scored a game-high 26 points while Josh Smith added 14 and Jeff Teague 13 as Atlanta bested the Pacers from the field hitting 42 percent of theirs shots compared to 27 for the Pacers. David West scored 18 points for the Pacers and Paul George 16 but it was too little to make up ground after the Pacers fell behind by 24 at halftime.
Atlanta extends their home winning streak over the Pacers to 12 and cuts Indiana’s series lead to 2-1. Both teams will meet again in Atlanta in Game Four on Monday night.
Things only went the Pacers way in the opening minutes when they raced out to a quick 8-1 lead on the Hawks, continuing for a moment the dominance they displayed in Indianapolis the past two games. Then it ended as the Hawks unleashed their offense and went on a 26-6 run to end the quarter and take a 13-point lead.
Indiana’s sputtering offense continued into the second quarter as the team shot 10-of-42 in the first 24 minutes of the game which allowed the Hawks to take control. Devin Harris’ jumper with a second left to go in the half pushed the lead to 24 points as Atlanta showed their muscle for the first time all series.
There would be no second half comeback for the Pacers who would fall behind by as many as 28 points in the third quarter before both teams emptied their bench and the Pacers looked forward to another day which they could end their struggles in Atlanta.