USA TODAY Sports
Indiana struggled defensively, leading to a 109-100 loss in Atlanta.
Some games come along and you can only sigh and wonder, "what else can you do?" Besides the obvious "a lot," the almost endless streaks of losses to the Atlanta Hawks continues for the Indiana Pacers, who despite a spirited effort in the fourth quarter to give themselves a fighting chance, still can't stay on board with the Hawks. It was a nightmare defensively for the blue and gold, who got lost on screens and allowed passes inside throughout the night.
The result was an unlimited amount of good looks for Atlanta, who while they hit their fair share of bailouts, didn't even need them. Atlanta finished the night shooting 55%, hitting 10-20 three pointers. Even when the Hawks weren't hitting their shots, they were in position to grab the offensive board for an easy putback. The Pacers and Hawks played to a draw in points in the paint, Indiana allowing 42. There was a feeling the Pacers were never really in the game, despite the scoreboard arguing otherwise multiple times.
Indiana had 12 points in the first in points off turnovers to help keep them within the 60% shooting Hawks, but could only get six in the second half despite a ton of Atlanta turnovers. All five Atlanta starters had at least 15, and it was the starters that put it to Indiana. The Pacers bench was one of the reasons the Pacers were able to find themselves back in the game, but the Pacers frontline was beat up by Zaza Pachulia and Al Horford, and killed by Louis Williams and Kyle Korver deep.
The Pacers used a 12-2 run in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to just three, but it was six straight points by Atlanta to follow, and that was all there was to this one. David West led the Pacers with 27, including a pair of step back three pointers. He got help from Paul George's 18/9/8 and 15 from George Hill, but were hampered by Roy Hibbert blanking in a big way tonight, scoring zero points and grabbing just a single rebound.
Hibbert was beat all night by Pachulia and Horford, eventually getting benched in favor of a David West/Tyler Hansbrough front line. As mentioned, the bench was one of the bright spots as a unit for the Pacers, with Ian Mahinmi leading the unit with 13. Hansbrough had six points and 10 rebounds, and Gerald Green pitched in six. Green had 11 shots in tonight's game, including one late when he replaced Lance Stephenson, who was hit by Hansbrough, causing him to leave the game and not return.
It was too much Green for the fact he only hit three of his shots, but D.J. Augustin's first half was mostly negative despite a single defensive possession of note. Green replacing Stephenson really took away a lot from what the Pacers could do, as Stephenson had another fine game of 13 points, grabbing some huge offensive rebounds late, despite Indiana's inability to cash them in.
A loss against Atlanta wasn't a surprise, but it was frustrating watching the Pacers get killed defensively on nearly every possession and unable to string together enough stops to keep it from being a 10-point game for longer than a couple of possessions. While Atlanta gets almost all of the "poor matchup" talk, but Indiana hasn't beaten the Grizzlies since February of 2009, losing their last five by an average of 13 points.