The Indiana Pacers' home dominance continued tonight in a key win over the Atlanta Hawks. With the struggles against Atlanta well documented, the way the Pacers worked back from 12 down in the second quarter to take a double figure lead in the third really gave the team the confidence to put the game on ice. The Pacers used a 19-4 run late in the second quarter to take the lead, with Paul George and David West's big second halves leading the way to the victory.
Paul George had a game high 29 points, 22 coming in the second half. A real advantage for Paul's big night didn't just come from three pointers, where he hit five of them, but at the free throw line, getting the whistles that sent him to the charity stripe nine times. Whether a case of Kyle Korver being completely overmatched putting he and his teammates in bad position, or a sign George can start getting whistles when he attacks the basket, Paul's offensive game is much more efficient when he can get to the free throw line.
David West was slow to start, scoring just three first half points, but had 12 in the second as part of a stat line that finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists, five steals, and three blocks. While he struggled to get anything going offensively in the first half, he was a key part defensively on the Pacers' success in erasing the double digit deficit. While he wasn't scoring, Roy Hibbert was. Hibbert had 12 points and eight boards in tonight's effort, shooting 6-8 from the floor, not only playing exceptionally well, but forcing Atlanta's hand by getting Al Horford in early and often foul trouble.
The Pacers shared the ball exceptionally well tonight, assisting on 28 of their 36 field goal attempts, the assists being a season high, led by George Hill, who had eight. Hill scored 15, getting eight free throw attempts on a night the Pacers got 40 attempts from the line. Lance Stephenson was one of seven double figure scorers for the Pacers, scoring 15, while continuing the make plays with the ball, playing at a better defensively rate tonight than he did at any point against Chicago last night.
Ian Mahinmi led the second unit in the first half as a lone highlight compared to the starters, but D.J. Augustin brought some valuable minutes in the third quarter, breaking out of his recent struggles to help push the Indiana lead. Mahinmi had 12 points on 4-4 shooting, keeping Hibbert's positive play alive. Augustin finished with 10 points. Tyler Hansbrough had some nice minutes, scoring four on a Tyler-esque 0-2 shooting. Orlando Johnson hit his lone three, but was limited tonight with fouls.
The Pacers shot 48% for the game, actually getting outrebounded and only pulling down five offensive boards, but with both teams shooting the ball well, the number of opportunities were limited for second chance points. Defensively, even though the Pacers allowed over 100, they played fairly well, especially against guys who are known Pacers killers. Josh Smith was 4-12 for nine points and Kyle Korver had 10 on 3-13 shooting.
Indiana's record in their back-to-back-to-back moves to 2-0 with the final test coming tomorrow night in Philadelphia. The team's road struggles will serve as a backdrop to them being on their third game in three nights, but they've put themselves in a solid situation to come out ahead in this stretch if the worst comes to light against Philly.