The joy or agony experienced watching the Pacers perform admirably against quality playoff contenders saw those emotions do a 180 as the Pacers had their streak come to a close against the Hawks. Of course, the Pacers did their job to make it a game, at least for a half, more accurately, a quarter.
Indiana came out hitting three pointers at a torrid pace, going 6-9 in the first quarter, including a perfect 4-4 from Brandon Rush. The Pacers had a seven point lead built until Joe Johnson drew a foul as the clock expired to pull the game to five after one, thanks in large part to Earl Watson’s nine first quarter assists. The Pacers cooled off considerably in the second quarter, losing the lead thanks to ten quick points from Jamal Crawford off the bench, but used a four minute scoring drought from the Hawks to stay alive and regain the lead at half, 50-48.
The Hawks second unit was a huge lift for them to get them back into it, but the first unit took control in the second half as the Pacers had no clue how to decipher Atlanta’s cryptic defensive code. Following a 31 point first quarter, the Pacers scored 32 across the next two quarters, attempting six three pointers in the second and third. Al Horford picked up the baton for Atlanta in the third, as he scored 12 points to Indiana’s 13 and made countless hustle plays to build Atlanta’s lead to 9 after the third.
Marvin Williams and Josh Smith (with a little help from Zaza Pachulia) built Atlanta’s lead up to 15 quickly, and essentially closed out the game. Credit to the Pacers for pulling within seven, but the win was never a likely possibility as the game drew to a close, Pacers falling 94-84.
Some (vainly positive) notes after jumping:
- Positives were hard to come by after the first quarter, no one bothered to step up today when the team needed it most, except for Troy Murphy, who finished with a team high 21 and 14, coming through with a solid showing in a three quarter pool of doom.
- Earl Watson was blazing in the assist line in the first quarter, leading me to the realization that this team needs a long term answer at PG, a guy who can score but would prefer to pass and find his teammates in optimal positions. Watson’s veteran savvy was tremendous today, showing the value of the PG position.
- On the other side of the spectrum, A.J. Price showed absolutely nothing today he hadn’t shown before, in some measures, even worse than normal, a pair of costly plays in the fourth leading to the Hawks closing the game out.
- Solomon Jones showed up against his former team, putting up 7 hustle points and 7 pride filled rebounds in front his old fans.
- Danny Granger’s hot streak came to an end with the winning streak, and Danny struggled to get an offensive rhythm going, finishing 7-19, including some easy shots (for him) not going down. He did make some nice plays defensively throughout the game, leading to some minor praise from the Atlanta commentators.
- Brandon Rush Enigma'd us all today. In the first quarter, Brandon went 4-4 and had 12 points. Since then, he took only five shots, scoring his 14th point well into the fourth. He had some struggles against Jamal Crawford on the defensive end, but Rush did manage to play well and play forgettable ball in the same game, and that might be a first.
All in all, there was really nothing to say about this game that doesn’t remind you that this team is 20 games below .500 for a reason. But it’s still hard to say what will come of the team’s record as they open up a 4 game home stand on Tuesday, starting against the Sacramento Kings and Rookie of the Year candidate Tyreke Evans.