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Pacers Links: Pacers finish game in Atlanta like it's 2009

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After playing their best basketball of the season in the third quarter, the Pacers let a W slip away down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

Kevin Liles-US PRESSWIRE

It was heartening to see the Indiana Pacers play so well in the third quarter and actually compete and fight throughout the game despite the end result, a painful loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

David West set the tone early with his effort letting everyone know that he wasn't going down without a fight. Then Lance Stephenson joined the starters late in the second quarter and in the third to help ramp up the intensity on the court. After an 18-0 run in the third it appeared the Pacers had some things figured out.

Unfortunately they still don't have their zone offense figured out. All of that great play came to a screeching halt and eventually went to waste when the Hawks stymied the Pacers with a zone defense in the fourth quarter. Suddenly the game took on quite a different, yet familiar arc.

It looked just like one of those classic Pacers losses from around 2009 when Jim O'Brien's shooters would get hot in the third quarter and run up a lead before letting it slip away in the fourth. That team struggled figuring out how to close games as Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy weren't up for grabbing the game by the throat and securing a win.

Granger developed into a guy the Pacers could look to last season but now that he's out, the Pacers appear back to ground zero in their search for a late-game hero. Last night in the closing minutes, Roy Hibbert missed a little shot in the lane and Paul George missed an open three which kept Atlanta steamrolling to the win. If the defense can focus on covering David West, the Pacers will need another option to step forward. Last night there was none.

Check out the links with more on the game and Danny Granger's injury: