Pacers hammered by Hawks 97-87

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Too little. Too late. Indiana posted one of its worst halves of the season as they fell behind the Atlanta Hawks 49-32 at half time. Indiana shot 33 percent in the first half, but 47 percent in the second as they created a run to make the final score a respectable 97-87.

The Hawks set the tone early in the game with a 12-0 run to start the game, which led to a 25-12 lead at the end of 12 minutes. It was the largest first quarter deficit of the season for Indiana, who has struggled recently in first quarters.

That 13-point lead after one quarter turned into a 17-point lead at half time. Indiana scored a season-low 32 points in the first half.

It was the second game of a back-to-back, the fourth game in five days and the sixth game in nine days, and the Pacers play suggested they were worn out from the schedule. The shots were short and the defensive rotation was slow, leading to Pero Antic scoring 16 points and knocking down 3 of 6 threes.

The poor shooting was highlighted – or lowlighted – by the starters shooting 6 of 31 in the first half. Paul George showed the most life by scoring 28 points on 11 of 25 shooting. Otherwise, Roy Hibbert was 1 of 8, David West 4 of 11, George Hill 4 of 12, and Danny Granger wound up with his sixth straight game in double figures on 4 of 10 shooting.

Granger got his first start since May of 2012 in place of Lance Stephenson, who missed the game with a right knee contusion.

Returning to the back-to-backs, it was the seventh loss of the season for Indiana, five of those have come on the second game of a back-to-back.

Also, Indiana’s nemesis remains playing in Philips Arena. The Pacers have now lost 12 straight regular season games in that building.

Atlanta came into the night seventh in NBA in three-point shooting at 37.0 percent, while Indiana’s defense was number one against three allowing 32.7 percent. But Atlanta would win the battle of the arc, as the Hawks drilled 44 percent of their threes (10/23), led by Antic and Kyle Korver combining to hit 6 of 11.

Turnovers proved to be a huge problem again, as Indiana had 20 in the game, and a game-high four from Paul George. The Hawks had just 11 turnovers and assisted on 27 of their 34 made baskets.

Lack of aggression showed from Indiana’s weariness, and the Pacers attempted just nine free throws – and made 8 – in the game. The Hawks went to stripe 22 times and knocked down 19.

The Hawks had a balanced offensive performance as five players scored at least 15. Mike Scott and Antic gave the Pacers trouble as big men stretching the floor and knocking down jumpers. This helped keep Hibbert out of the lane and opened it up for drives.

Hibbert was ineffective on both ends of the floor as he scored two points on 1 of 8 shooting, grabbed just four rebounds and was a -21.

The Pacers get a much needed day off before hosting Washington on Friday night, which is followed by three days off.

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