The Indiana Pacers refused to make things easy in their home win against the Atlanta Hawks, trailing by 14 points a minute out of the break before finally deciding enough was enough. To that point, the Pacers were barely involved, seeing their lone bright spot, a 14-1 run in the second quarter, obliterated to close the half, ending up on the wrong side of a 17-0 run that put them behind 61-47.
Indiana was out of sorts in part due to an injury exit for Victor Oladipo. Oladipo had been questionable for the game with knee soreness and came up grimacing after falling into a cameraman on a drive. After hitting his free throws, his night would end there. From there, they struggled throughout the first half to find any consistency, only consistently struggling against the Atlanta defense.
In search of leadership, the Pacers got a boost from Thaddeus Young on the bench and Darren Collison on the court. Collison scored the next five as part of an 8-0 run to bring them back within striking distance, showing their best effort of the game to date. Even after that burst, Indiana’s offensive continued to struggle finding easy looks.
Fortunately for the Pacers, they were able to hold Atlanta without a field goal for seven and a half minutes, allowing them to clank their way back in contention. Though they would eventually cut the lead to two, Indiana still hadn’t found a spark to energize themselves and the team. Nate McMillan went 12 deep searching for it, finally finding it in rookie Aaron Holiday, who splashed home a three to give Indiana their first lead of the second half.
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Holiday would hit a second three early in the fourth and expanded the lead to six on a finger roll layup off a Domantas Sabonis hustle rebound. The two would meet up later in the quarter as Holiday found Sabonis in the paint with a nice behind the back pass.
Holiday finished with 12 points, three boards, and two assists in 15 minutes of action. After doubling his career minutes in one game and giving the Pacers the spark they needed, he stayed all business in his post game interview, just saying he wanted to help the team win. Holiday would say he wasn’t thinking much of his matchup with Trae Young, but the last time the two met up, it was Young who lifted his team to the win in Summer League. Holiday would hold Young scoreless when the two matched up.
While Holiday brought the Pacers out of the cave, it wasn’t a total wash for the rest of the team individually. Bojan Bogdanovic would be the go-to for much of the night, scoring a game high 22 points, splashing to the floor time and time again on drives while going 3-5 from deep. Sabonis fell a point shy of a double double, but had a season high 16 rebounds as Indiana outrebounded Atlanta by 13.
Indiana did have six double figure scorers, getting big stretches from Young (11 points, seven rebounds) and Collison (12 and five assists) in the third to go with earlier runs to keep the Pacers alive from Myles Turner early and Tyreke Evans in the second quarter. Turner wrapped up his first double double of the season with 12 points and 11 boards, picking up three blocks. Evans as well had 11 with a pair of timely threes.
Both would finish just 4-12 from the field, however, combining for just a single point in the second half. The search for positives led to Cory Joseph being the team high in minutes played. Joseph was just 2-8 shooting and had seven turnovers, but played a positive game overall to help limit Atlanta’s offense in the second half with five steals, four coming in the second half.
The Pacers were excellent in reading passing lanes, which helped balance out an otherwise frustrating showing in terms of ball control. Indiana had 22 turnovers compared to 18 for the Hawks, those turnovers showing up late to keep the Pacers from closing out the win with a purpose, instead relying on Atlanta to miss shots at the rim.
In the end, the Pacers did what they needed to do and avoided falling in a trap against a Hawks team that caught Indiana off guard with their energy. It hasn’t been pretty of late, but the Pacers now sit at 10-6, a two game improvement over their record this time last year. They’ll wrap up their two game home stand on Monday when they host the Utah Jazz.